J.C. Penney CEO Has Surrounded Himself With Strong VPs: Loeb Associates

J.C. Penney CEO Has Surrounded Himself With Strong VPs: Loeb Associates
Source: jcp.com/ jcpnewsroom.com

After getting a boost in early March, J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP)’s stock price has mostly been stuck in the mid-$8 range as analysts try to figure out whether the retailer is recovering from self-inflicted wounds dealt by former CEO Ron Johnson or if headwinds to the industry will prevent it from rebuilding its audience.

Strong management team backing Ullman: Loeb

If management mistakes are to blame for J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP)’s current predicament, Walter Loeb, head of management consulting firm Loeb Associates and former senior retail analyst at Morgan Stanley, thinks that the strong team assembled by current CEO Mike Ullman could be just the thing to turn it around.

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“JC Penney has a strong team that could generate future promotions from within the ranks of the company. This is notable and welcome news at a time when the retail industry lacks executive talent,” writes Loeb in a recent Forbes article.

Loeb mentions seven executive vice presidents at J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) that he thinks are particularly important to implementing Ullman’s vision: chief merchandising officer Liz Sweeney, CFO Ed Record, chief stores officer Tony Bartlett, design and sourcing VP Ken Mangone, human resources VP Brynn Evanson, general counsel Janet Dhillon, and chief information officer Scott Laverty.

Mangone, Loeb play key roles in J.C. Penney’s turnaround effort

Mangone, who has been with J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) since 1977, has been tasked with bringing back the popular private brands that were so important to the company’s business before Johnson sidelined them, and are central to its turnaround efforts. Loeb’s confidence in Mangone’s ability to deliver is a big part of why he is bullish on JCP.

Loeb is also excited about Bartlett’s expanded role in the company, because he sees a distinct difference in stores that are under his supervision.

“I have observed the favorable environment in JC Penney stores under Mr. Bartlett’s management,” Loeb writes. “The positive attitude of associates is in sharp contrast to previous years.  People are customer friendly – aware of their mission to regain a place in the heart and pocketbook of customers.”

While he doesn’t highlight the strengths of the other five executive VPs on his list, Loeb is framing J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) management team as a competitive advantage that should give investors confidence. Considering the ambitious guidance that they have given for 2014, they will have to be at least as good as he believes to avoid disappointment.

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