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Why Investors Are Loving JC Penney Q3 Earnings

Source: courtesy of J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) reported third-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Friday morning. The venerable retailer reported an adjusted net loss per share of $0.33 and $2.81 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, it reported a net loss of $0.21 on revenue of $2.86 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for a net loss of $0.17 and $2.74 billion in revenue.

Same-store sales rose 1.7% in the quarter. On a GAAP basis J.C. Penney lost $0.41 per share, worse than the year-ago third-quarter loss of $0.22 per share.

Cost of goods sold rose by 2.8% year over year, which the company attributed to the liquidation of slow-moving inventory, higher shrink rates and the continued growth in online and major appliance businesses.

CEO Marvin R. Ellison said:

We are encouraged that we delivered positive sales comps for the third quarter.  Our growth strategies and new apparel initiatives led to sequential comp sales improvement in nearly all merchandise categories in the third quarter, giving us confidence that our overall strategy and transformation is beginning to take hold.

At the end of last month, J.C. Penney made sharp cuts to guidance, which the company reiterated this morning. Same-store sales are expected to be down 1% to flat, cost of goods sold is expected to rise by 1.0% to 1.2%, and EPS is expected to be $0.02 to $0.08.

Analysts polled by Yahoo! Finance are looking for EPS of $0.43 and sales of $12.36 billion, but new estimates may be slow in coming out in response to the company’s guidance cut.

J.C. Penney’s results demonstrate the value of underpromising and overdelivering. The guidance cut cost the company 15% of its share value in a single day and the year-to-date decline was 67% as of last night. In particular, the rise in same-store sales was sharply higher than an expected 0.7% increase. It’s worth noting that one quarter does not a turnaround make.

The stock traded up about 16% in Friday morning, at $3.21 in a 52-week range of $2.35 to $10.74. Analysts have a 12-month consensus price target for the stock of $5.71.