J.C. Penney Beats on Profit, to Close 27 Stores and New CEO ‘even More Convinced' of Its Potential

This story is breaking and will be updated. J.C. Penney made some progress in the fourth quarter and its battered share price was moving higher in the premarket. Penney said it will close 18 department stores and 9 free-standing furniture stores.The Plano-based company reported a profit of $75 million, or 24 cents a share, compared with a profit of $242 million, or 77 cents a share, a year ago. While the results were significantly lower than last year, Penney beat analysts forecast of 11 cents a share, according to Refinitiv.Same-store sales declined 6 percent in the holiday quarter and total sales fell 9.5 percent to $3.67 billion from $4.05 billion last year.CEO Jill Soltau made significant progress on slashing inventory a persistent problem at the company for years. Inventory ended the year down 13.1 percent from a year ago and could decline more in the first quarter as the chain liquidated its kitchen and laundry appliances departments in February.Penney's report comes as retail's fourth-quarter results weren't all good or all bad. But it was another quarter that proved retailers have to increase sales and not just cut costs to impress investors.Best Buy and Walmart posted strong holiday quarters.Same-store sales came up short at Macy's after a weak December. Macy's announced a restructuring plan with the goal of saving $100 million a year that includes cutting 100 management jobs -- vice presidents or above -- to increase the speed that decisions are made.Home Depot missed expectations and Lowe's said its mixed results were due to a slow housing market in Canada.At Lowe's, former Penney CEO Marvin Ellison began closing the gap with Home Depot, said Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel appearing on CNBC. In the U.S., Lowe's fourth-quarter same-store sales gain of 2.4 percent to Home Depot's 3.7 percent, is the narrowest spread in a while, Nagel said.Twitter: @MariaHalkias  Continue reading...

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