Hindsight is indeed 20/20. Despite the many smart investors who choose to listen to their significant others to find great investment opportunities, I chose to ignore not only my own analysis but also that of my S.O. Ouch!
Six months ago, I opined that retailer J.C. Penney
Still, I had an advantage I didn't use. That significant other I mentioned earlier works for Penney's, and would often come home and regale me with stories of how busy she was every day. Management was driving supervisors like her nuts, and product was flowing into the stores in droves -- everything from Nicole Miller shirts and jeans to home furnishings from Chris Madden. Sales, it seems, were very good. (According to her, they still are.)
So I have no one to blame except myself, really, for missing the 13% growth in Penney's stock over that time period. It's no barn-burner, but it's respectable. Year to date, the stock has a total return of more than 26%, which compares favorably with competitors Kohl's
Today the retailer turned out another good quarterly report, with earnings from continuing operations growing 79% over last year. Over the past few years, Penney's has eliminated its operation of drugstores and life insurance products and focused on what it does best.
Sales were up 5.4% for the quarter, with comps coming in at 4.2% year over year. The big boost to revenues has been the company's direct sales division, which saw a 7.1% increase vs. a 1.6% decline last year. That includes a 30% increase in Internet sales alone. This has been a particularly bright spot for Penney's, which has regularly recorded sales growth in excess of 30% for the past couple of quarters. Gross margins continue to improve as well, rising to 38.1% of sales.
This improvement in Penney's top and bottom line has allowed it to expand its share repurchasing program. It recently authorized an additional $400 million buyback plan; the company has now approved the purchase of more than $4 billion worth of shares. J.C. Penney has already reduced shares outstanding by 70 million, or about $3 billion worth. It expects to buy back the rest of the shares by year's end.
My significant other often tells me I don't listen to her. I won't let her know how right she is this time.
Further fashionable Foolishness:
- See how much a Penney can add up to
- A Penney can also be worth more than a nickel
- The retailer kicks the drugstore habit
Discuss the improving picture at J.C. Penney on the Fool's discussion boards.