Based on the aggregated intelligence of 170,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, department store operator J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) has received the dreaded one-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at J.C. Penney's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

J.C. Penney facts

Headquarters (Founded)

Plano, Texas (1902)

Market Cap

$8.5 billion

Industry

Department stores

Trailing-12-Month Revenue

$17.6 billion

Management

Chairman/CEO Myron Ullman, III
CFO Michael Dastugue

Return on Equity (Average, Past 3 Years)

9.4%

Cash/Debt

$1.67 billion / $3.1 billion

6-Month Return

84.2%

Competitors

Kohl's (NYSE: KSS)
Macy's (NYSE: M)
Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN)

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 26% of the 687 members who have rated J.C. Penney believe the stock will underperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bears include kurtdabear and All-Star kristm, who is ranked in the top 0.5% of our community.

On Jan. 4, kurtdabear wrote about the bullish outlook: "Mid-range retailers are in for a rocky ride as the American middle class continues to shrink. Though better managed than many of its competitors, JCP will not be able to escape unharmed. With a P/E north of 20, it's already seriously overpriced."

In fact, J.C. Penney currently sports a P/E of 26.8. That represents a wide premium to department store foes Kohl's (15.3), Macy's (15.8), and Nordstrom (18.4), as well as retail giants like Target (NYSE: TGT) (14.1) and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) (13.6).

CAPS All-Star kristm expands on the underperform case:

This isn't your grandma's underwear store ... Oh, wait, it is. JC Penny is associated with ... 1980's sailor suits, brown living room curtains ordered from a catalog, and tight shoes. For people under 40 there's not a lot to love here, and they don't have any secondary brands or businesses to fall back on anymore. Where's the appeal? Where's the growth?

What do you think about J.C. Penney, or any other stock for that matter? If you want to retire rich, you need to protect your portfolio from any undue risk. Staying away from dangerous stocks is crucial to securing your financial future, and on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are working every day to flag them. CAPS is 100% free, so get started!

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value and Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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