J.C. Penney Slumps After Being Only “Pleased” With Holiday Sales

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J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) shares went into a nosedive after the retailer issued a press release about its sales during the holiday shopping period, falling as much as 8% in early trading. So exactly what did that press release say, you ask? Was the struggling retailer disappointed with how it did? Actually, no. J.C. Penney says it’s “pleased.” But obviously that’s not what sent shares into a downward spiral this morning.

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J.C. Penney provides no information

The big problem for J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) is the lack of information contained in this morning’s press release. There are only two sentences of “new information,” if you can really call it that. It’s more of a lack of information, which seems to have spooked investors, at least in these early hours. Here’s what it says:

“JCPenney reported today that the Company is pleased with its performance for the holiday period, showing continued progress in its turnaround efforts. Customers responded well to the Company’s offerings this holiday shopping season, both in store and online.”

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The lack of any quantitative data here is quite shocking, and investors are probably filling in the blanks themselves, assuming that the lack of data means bad things for J.C. Penney. After all, if the retailer had good data to show, wouldn’t it release that instead of this vague press release with basically no information? So why release a statement with no information? The retailer was due to release a statement of some kind about holiday sales, along with other retailers, so it probably felt like it had to say something.

J.C. Penney reaffirms guidance

The one other thing included in the press release is the retailer’s decision to reaffirm the fourth quarter guidance it provided in its third quarter earnings release. They amounted to improvement in comparable store sales and gross margins, lower than last year’s levels of SG&A expenses and interest expense in line with third quarter.

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The only numbers provided in that guidance were those that many find less than interesting: $165 million in depreciation and amortization; $175 million in capital expenditures for the fourth quarter and $300 million for fiscal 2014; $2.85 billion in inventory at the end of the year; and more than $2 billion in total available liquidity.

No guidance for fourth quarter earnings per share or revenue was provided.

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Michelle Jones is editor-in-chief for ValueWalk.com and has been with the site since 2012. Previously, she was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Email her at Mjones@valuewalk.com.
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