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JCPenney Beats Expectations

Despite a tough year, JC Penney Co. says it still beat expectations. Sales for the fourth quarter slipped 3.6%,, and fell 4.5% on a same-store basis. And while net income declined due to a pension expense, income from continuing operations gained 27.9% to $454 million and increased 27.9% compared with $355 million in the same period a year ago. For the full year, total sales declined 5%, with comparable -store sales easing 6.3%.

"JCPenney far exceeded its expectations and objectives for the year," Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, its CEO, in a statement. "By stepping up the style of the merchandise we offer customers and enhancing service in our stores, we were able to drive cash generation and profitability, in spite of the difficult economic climate." Women's clothing and shoes were among its best-performing departments.

In the year ahead, the Plano, Tex.-based retailer says it plans to "leverage our position as a destination for affordable style" into same-store sales growth in the "flat to slightly positive," range, with growth in the low single digits for the full year.

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