JC Penney Results, Outlook Send Shares Plummeting

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J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) reported first-quarter fiscal 2018 results before markets opened Thursday. The venerable retailer reported an adjusted net loss per share of $0.22 and $2.67 billion in revenues. In the same period a year ago, it reported earnings per share (EPS) of $0.01 on revenue of $3.96 billion. First-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for a net loss per share of $0.20 and $2.63 billion in revenue.

Excluding credit and other income, net sales for the quarter totaled $2.58 billion.

Same-store sales rose 0.2% in the quarter and 0.1% for the full year. Analysts were looking for a first-quarter increase of around 2%.

The really bad news came from the store’s outlook. Adjusted EPS are now forecast to fall in a range from a −$0.07 to $0.13. The company originally had forecast full-year EPS in a range of $0.05 to $0.20. J.C. Penney expects same-store sales to remain flat to up 2%, unchanged from the original estimate. Consensus estimates called for full-year EPS of $0.19 and revenues of $12.16 billion.

J.C. Penney did not provide a second-quarter outlook, but consensus estimates call for EPS of $0.02 on sales of $2.86 billion.

CEO Marvin R. Ellison offered this assessment:

Overall, we believe that our strategies are beginning to take hold, as we are seeing improvement in a number of areas. Apparel categories performed well during seasonable weather periods, and our beauty and home refresh initiatives performed well above our total comp sales performance for the quarter. The strength in sales performance early in the quarter, our investments in enhancing our apparel categories, continued strength in our beauty and home refresh initiatives and a focus on taking market share from ailing retailers all give us confidence in our annual comp sales guidance of flat to up 2%.

Investors have chosen to wave away the so-called improvements and focus instead on the numbers, especially the EPS forecast. The stock traded down more than 14% early in Thursday’s premarket and was recently seen at down 11.5% at $2.72, in a 52-week range of $2.35 to $5.63. Analysts had a 12-month consensus price target for the stock of $3.94 before this morning’s announcement.