The last two hours of trading in shares of J.C. Penney
Shares of the struggling department store chain were flat until shortly after 2 p.m., when CEO Ron Johnson offered up some encouraging news on the progress of its ambitious makeover.
With just a half hour of trading to go on Wednesday, the stock was trading as much as 12% higher. It had given back nearly all of those gains by the market close.
What did Johnson say that excited and ultimately frightened investors? Well, the positive nugget is that sales for the brand stores -- the key store-in-a-store approach that will find dozens of small brand-specific storefronts -- were trending 20% higher than the rest of J.C. Penney.
That may seem like good news, but keep in mind that comps fell by a staggering 21.7% in its latest fiscal quarter. Comparing any chain's success to what's happening at J.C. Penney isn't really setting the bar too high.
However, Johnson also pointed out that the overall picture hasn't been so hot this month.
"The last two weeks have been much tougher than we planned," he said, just about the time that the stock began to give back its intraday gains.
Is it a coincidence that once J.C. Penney stopped offering free haircuts to kids on Sundays in August the registers stopped ringing in September? Now we know why the chain is bringing back the free snips for tots come November.
Johnson arrived at the company last year with plenty of fanfare. After cutting his teeth at Target
Unfortunately for J.C. Penney, there's no cheap-chic or Genius Bar concept that can save a chain that has only alienated and confused shoppers. Just wait until the company's next quarterly report. Don't buy into Johnson's anecdotes. Wait for J.C. Penney to prove that it's truly growing its sales again.
Don't be surprised if it's a long wait.
More square than fair
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.