J.C. Penney's Shares Rise After Upbeat Revenue Outlook

J.C. Penney Co.'s turnaround is moving along.

The department store chain, based in Plano, Texas, reported that its fourth-quarter loss widened from a year ago, dragged down by restructuring and pension costs. But adjusted profit met analysts' estimates and the chain enjoyed an uptick in spending for the holidays.

The company also offered an upbeat sales outlook for the year, boosting shares in premarket trading Friday.

The results offer encouraging signs that a reinvention by CEO Marvin Ellison is in the works. Ellison took the helm in August 2015. He succeeded Myron Ullman who returned to Penney's helm in April 2013 when the board fired Ron Johnson after a disastrous overhaul led to catastrophic losses and plunging sales. Ullman stabilized the ship, but Ellison's goal is increasing sales and making the company more nimble in the face of stiffer competition from the likes of online leader Amazon.com.

The company said it lost $131 million, or 43 cents per share, in the quarter. That compares with a loss of $35 million, or 11 cents per share. a year ago.

Adjusted results amounted to a profit of 39 cents per share, which matched estimates from FactSet.

Revenue rose nearly 3 percent to $3.99 billion, and topped the $3.97 billion estimate from FactSet.

J.C. Penney said that it saw a solid 4.1 percent increase in revenue at stores opened at least a year, an important indicator of a retailer's health. Among the most popular areas: home furnishings, its Sephora beauty brand and handbags.

Penney said that it expects revenue at stores opened at least a year to rise anywhere from 3 percent to 4 percent, and that adjusted profits should be positive.

Its shares climbed $1.18, or 14.1 percent, to $9.54 in premarket trading about an hour before the market open on Friday. Penney's results were released hours before the expected time.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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