Analysts at Sterne Agee observed the department stores including JC Penney Company, Macy’s, Target Corporation, Stage Stores and Five Below experienced ups and downs during the fourth quarter of 2014.

According to the firm’s analyst, Charles Grom and his team, the quarter had strong start in November and faded out in early December lull. The sales of department stores picked up again going into the Christmas and New Year.

Grom and his fellow analysts believe that the same-store sales of the department stores under their coverage are “tracking fairly inline” with their current estimates for the fourth quarter.

JC Penney intra-quarter expected to slide

JC Penney is one of the companies covered by Grom and his colleagues. According to them, there is a possibility that the department store operator’s intra-quarter update would be downward.

The analysts suggested that JC Penney’s fourth quarter “could be tracking below 2-4% SSS guidance.”  They also suggested that there is a tendency for less disclosure particularly when trends are weakening.

Grom and his colleagues recalled that JC Penney provided an update regarding its holiday performance on January 8, 2014. They noted that the update had short details, but the company articulated that it was pleased with its performance and maintained its guidance for the fourth quarter last year.

The analysts suggested that a downward adjustment on JC Penney’s 4Q guidance is likely if it decides to update investors regarding its performance.  Grom and his colleagues also said, “Recall that 4Q comparisons are 680 bps harder than 3Q and even the low end of comp guidance implies an 880 bps acceleration on the 2-year stack. Indeed, We see risk to our 2.5% SSS forecast (Street @ 2.9%).”

JC Penney Company (JCP) Q4 2014 Earnings

JC Penney preliminary update on nine-week performance

On Tuesday, JC Penney released its preliminary update on its performance on November to December (9 weeks). The company reported that its comparable store sales climbed 3.7% during the period.

JC Penney now expects its comparable store sales for the fourth quarter to be in the upper end of its guidance range of 2% to 4%.

In a statement, Mike Ullman, CEO of JC Penney said, “Our highest priority over the last year has been to restore profitable sales growth at JC Penney. This holiday season was instrumental in that effort – and our teams delivered.”

“Customers clearly responded to our combination of great merchandise and compelling promotions this holiday season.  We are proud of these results, and believe the work we are doing will fuel the continued growth of our business,” added Ullman.