Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Penney gives market positive surprise

February 19, 2010

jcpCheck out the better-than-expected quarterly results and earnings forecast from J.C. Penney.

The department store operator also said same-store sales would improve during 2010 — it expects same-store sales to be flat in the first quarter and up in the “low-single digits” for the full fiscal year.

Like many retailers, Penney kept inventories tight to avoid having to slash prices to clear merchandise. That helped to boost its profits even as sales lagged.

Still, the company has underperformed several of its main competitors. Its same-store sales fell 3.8 percent in December and 4.6 percent in January, even as rivals such as Kohl’s and Nordstrom saw their sales shoot up. Penney has been hampered by a higher exposure to malls, where traffic has suffered particularly during the downturn.

But in a promising note, Penney CEO Mike Ullman said on a conference call that while he expects the economy to remain tough in 2010, he was “encouraged” by February and Valentine’s Day sales.

Also in the basket:

Mega Brands seeks U.S. bankruptcy court protection

Nestle sees higher growth 2010 after FY beats poll

Carrefour sees tough 2010, reviewing Belgian unit

The future of McQueen (WWD, subscription required)

(Photo: Reuters)

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Like many retailers, Penney kept inventories tight to avoid having to slash prices to clear merchandise. That helped to boost its profits even as sales lagged.

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