Let's count some pennies at J.C. Penney
The end of June showed an uptick, as customers seemed to respond to J.C. Penney's back-to-school merchandise. The company did put some of its seasonal items on sale to clear the shelves, but this move wasn't enough to cause the company to lower its earnings guidance. July appears to be shaping up much better; J.C. Penney expects same-store sales in July to jump from the low double digits to the mid-teens.
J.C. Penney has done a nice job of revamping its operations. Once an also-ran among department stores, it has now become a popular place to shop. After doing extensive studies, management overhauled its merchandise to appeal to its core female customers. (My wife just loves to rub that in my face.) This sharper focus has shown up in the company's results. In its latest quarter, diluted earnings per share from continuing operations increased by more than 15% year over year. Not satisfied, the company announced a new long-range plan designed to increase earnings per share by 16% per year from 2008 through 2011. This includes creating 250 new stores and renovating 300 existing ones.
The May-Federated merger, in which many existing department stores such as Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale's were converted to the Macy's brand (the company has now been renamed Macy's
Despite the jump in its stock price today (up $4.30, or 6%), I still think this stock remains in the bargain bin. At a trailing P/E of less than 15, this sale may be too hard to pass up.
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Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and promises to read it when not being wrestled by his three children. Feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.