The iconic retailer's quarterly comparable sales rose, and that was more than double what analysts had expected. Fred Katayama reports.
A positive surprise at J.C. Penney. The iconic but struggling retailer grew its quarterly sales at existing stores by 1.7 percent. That's more than double what analysts had been expecting. And that contrasts with the drop in comparable sales at rivals such as Macy's and Nordstrom. Cowen senior analyst Oliver Chen said, "We are pleased to see comps turn positive for the first time in five quarters and accelerate sequentially." Penney's loss widened as the department store chain shut down stores and offered big discounts to clear its inventory of slow-selling items before the important holiday sales season. But that loss was less than Wall Street had expected. Penney has closed 139 stores this year as part of its restructuring drive. Home goods, cosmetics at its Sephora stores and footwear sold well, but those store closures hurt the top line, driving net sales down. Wall Street cheered the results, catapulting Penney shares sharply higher. The stock has lost two thirds of its value this year.