Why Wall Street Is Punishing JCPenney This Morning

Signs of retail pain appeared again Friday morning as JCPenney became the latest department store to report worse results than a year ago.

The department store’s net loss grew to $180 million, or 58 cents a share, for the first quarter, from a loss of $68 million in 2016.

Similarly, the chain said net sales fell to $2.71 billion for the period, compared with $2.81 billion the year prior.

Wall Street punished the stock in early morning trading, sending it down as much as 9 percent, to $4.83 a share.

The Plano, Texas-based company said earnings per share were 6 cents, which beat analyst expectations.

“We continue to make encouraging progress in the company’s competitive and financial position, despite our top-line performance during the first quarter,” chairman and CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement. “While February was a very challenging month for JCPenney and broader retail, we are pleased with our comp store sales for the combined March and April period, which improved significantly versus February.”

The company did manage to show some bright spots, citing the positive comps posted by its Home, Sephora, Fine Jewelry and Salon businesses. It also pointed to strong geographic regions, namely its stores in the southwestern and southeastern parts of the U.S.

Earlier this year, JCPenney, like many other major retailers, said it was feeling the pressure from online merchants. As a result, it announced plans to close between 130 and 140 of its 1,000-plus stores in the coming months. In addition, it expected to offer early retirement to about 6,000 workers.

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