J C Penney Company Inc Posts Weak Same Store Sales

J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP) released its latest earnings report after closing bell tonight, posting adjusted losses of 77 cents per share on $2.76 billion in net sales. Analysts had been looking for losses of 81 cents per share on $2.8 billion in revenue for the third quarter. In the same quarter last year, J C Penney posted losses of $1.81 per share on $2.78 billion in revenue.

Net losses were 62 cents per share.

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Key metrics from J C Penney’s earnings report

Same store sales were flat compared to last year but have increased by 4.3% so far this year. Analysts wanted to see the department store chain’s same store sales rise by 2.3%, marking the fourth consecutive quarterly improvement after declining for nine consecutive quarters before that. Management said they saw a strong start to the back to school shopping season but then sales slowed down in September and October due to “unseasonably warm weather,” which they said caused lower sales of fall items.

J C Penney reported a 710 basis point improvement in gross margin compared to last year’s third fiscal quarter. The company said gross margin was 36.6% of sales, compared to 29.5% in last year’s third quarter. EBITDA was $102 million, an improvement of $342 million from last year’s third quarter. Net income rose by 62% year over year.

The department store chain reported that Home and Fine Jewelry were among the top performing divisions. Sephora continued to perform well, and the company saw the best sales performance in the western and northeastern parts of the U.S.

J C Penney provides guidance

For the fourth quarter, J C Penney expects a 2% to 4% improvement in comparable store sales and a 500 to 600 basis point improvement in gross margins.

For the full year, the department store chain expects a 3.5% to 4.5% improvement in comparable store sales and a 500 to 600 basis point improvement in gross margin. J C Penney expects to be positive in free cash flow and have about $2.1 billion in liquidity.