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Why J.C. Penney Company Inc. Stock Jumped

By Jeremy Bowman – Mar 11, 2014 at 3:50PM

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J.C. Penney shares soared on an upgrade today. Here's what you need to know.

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of J.C. Penney (JCPN.Q) moved up as much as 10% today after the company got an upgrade from Citigroup.

So what: Analyst Oliver Chen raised his rating on the department store chain from neutral to buy, saying that Penney's 2% increase in same-store sales "bodes well" for the stock going forward, and that concerns about liquidity have been overblown. Chen expects the company to have $2 billion in liquidity by the end of 2014, and to match its guidance of a mid-single-digit increase in comps this year, which will instill further investor confidence in the stock. He lifted his price target form $7.50 to $11. 

Now what: Shares cooled off later in the afternoon, trading up about 4%, but the stock has still gained more than 70% from its value before its earnings report came out two weeks ago. After posting positive comps and projecting a mid-single-digit gain in comps for the current year, the company is clearly headed in the right direction, but investors may be overlooking the hole that the company needs to dig itself out of. The 2% same-store sales increase follows a drop of 32% the year before, and Penney saw an operating loss of $1.4 billion in 2013. In other words, that red ink is not going away anytime soon. Long term, the retailer's viability still looks questionable. 

Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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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