J.C. Penney Stock Surges as Loss Narrows in First Quarter

J.C. Penney reported first-quarter earnings after the market closed today. Here's what investors need to know.

May 15, 2014 at 5:05PM

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) reported fiscal 2014 first-quarter earnings after the market closed today that beat Wall Street's estimates on both the top and bottom lines. For the period ended May 3, J.C. Penney reported a loss of $1.15 per share, which was $0.10 per share better than analysts had expected. Revenue came in at $2.8 billion in the period, up 6.3% from $2.6 billion during the same period a year ago. This topped analysts' estimates for quarterly sales of $2.7 billion.

Gross margins were another improvement for the struggling retailer, as gross margins climbed to 33.1%, up from 30.8% in the year-ago period. "We are very pleased to report that JCPenney delivered its second consecutive quarter of comparable store sales growth, as well as continued gross margin improvement," said Myron E. Ullman, J.C. Penney's chief executive. The department-store retailer said that a fresh merchandise mix and revamped messaging to its core customers helped drive better-than-expected sales in the quarter.

J.C. Penney's stock surged more than 20% in after-hours trading on the news. However, much of this gain was likely due to the high short interest in the stock -- more than 30% of J.C. Penney's shares are currently sold short. The stock was trading around $10.03 per share as of 4:50 p.m. today.

Tamara Rutter has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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