JC Penney Rolls Out Girls JoJo Siwa Apparel Line

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Struggling retailer J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) reports fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 results on Friday, and analysts are not expecting much. Maybe that’s why the company is launching a new girls clothing line Monday, less than a week after launching a new tween apparel brand. But do tweens and teens even know Penney’s exists?

Whether they do or they don’t, J.C. Penney is launching a licensed teen fashion line featuring JoJo Siwa, the 14-year-old star of Nickelodeon TV show “Lip Sync Battle Shorties.” Following last week’s launch of a new Obsess brand for tweens, J.C. Penney appears fixed on making a play for the Generation Z market.

The new JoJo Siwa apparel line is available now at the company’s website and will be available in 600 J.C. Penney stores beginning Friday.

In addition to her starring TV role, Siwa, according to J.C. Penney, is a “social media sensation” as well as an advocate against bullying, a singer, and a best-selling author. Her YouTube channel, “It’s JoJo Siwa,” promotes self-confidence and positivity, and it claims 5.6 million subscribers. A hit music video boasts more than 500 million views on YouTube and reinforces her messages of inclusion and friendship. She also has 6.6 million followers on Instagram and 15 million fans on Musical.ly.

J.C. Penney’s motives in launching the new line are clear. Senior vice-president for merchandising, James Starke, noted:

By creating a comprehensive destination for specially-designed JoJo Siwa apparel and other related merchandise, JCPenney has an opportunity to reach an entirely new customer who loves her confident and upbeat personality. This young generation of shoppers holds an unprecedented influence over family purchasing decisions and by bringing brands to JCPenney that appeal to this demographic, we can introduce her, and her family, to our store.

Maybe. But like the Obsess brand J.C. Penney introduced last week for tween girls, the company competes against fast fashion retailers like H&M and Five Below. To make matters worse, Amazon is revving up its own fashion business, and in any race in which the e-commerce giant competes Amazon has just one goal: to win.

When J.C. Penney reports earnings Friday, analysts are looking for fourth-quarter earnings per share (EPS) of $0.47, compared with $0.64 in the year-ago quarter. Quarterly revenues are estimated at $4.05 billion, up about 2.3% year over year. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $0.11 on sales of $12.52 billion, compared with EPS of $0.08 and sales of $12.55 billion last year.

J.C. Penney stock traded up about 0.5% early Monday morning, at $4.08 in a 52-week range of $2.35 to $6.87. The 12-month consensus price target on the shares is $3.95.