J.C. Penney Joins the Retail Earnings Rodeo, and Falls Flat

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) reported a swing and a miss on Wednesday after the closing bell. The beleaguered department store chain reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $552 million, or $2.51 per share. Excluding costs associated with restructuring and management transition, the retailer’s adjusted net loss for the quarter was $427 million, or $1.95 per share. Either way you cut it, the company missed expectations by a long shot.

Avg. EPS Estimate Year-Ago EPS Actual Diluted EPS Avg. Revenue Estimate Actual Revenue
TJX Companies $0.81 $0.62 $0.82 $7.65 billion $7.72 billion
J. C. Penney -$0.19 $0.74 -$1.95 $4.08 billion $3.88 billion
Dollar Tree $0.99 $0.80 $1.01 $2.23 billion $2.25 billion
Target $1.47 $1.45 $1.47 $22.66 billion $22.37 billion

Revenue fell 28.4 percent to $3.88 billion on the back of a 31.7 percent decline in comparable-store sales. Gross margin fell from 30.2 percent in the year-ago period to 23.8 percent. The company commented that “Gross margin was impacted by lower than expected sales and a higher level of clearance merchandise sales related to inventory reductions in 2012.”

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CEO Ron Johnson put it this way in the report: “Sales and customer traffic were below our expectations in 2012, but as we execute our ambitious transformation plan, we are pleased with the great strides we made to improve jcpenney’s cost structure, technology platforms and the overall customer experience. We have accomplished so much in the last twelve months. We believe the bold actions taken in 2012 will materially improve the Company’s long-term growth and profitability.”