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J.C. Penney shares plunge on short-term outlook

The department store's stock was among the biggest decliners after the retailer told analysts it expects its financial struggles to continue during the second half of the year.
By SARAH SKIDMORE Modified: September 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012

J.C. Penney & Co.'s stock was one of the market's biggest decliners Thursday after the department store chain told analysts that it expects its financial struggles to continue during the second half of the year.

The retailer has tried to adjust pricing, merchandise and store design, but its efforts have turned off loyal shoppers and failed to draw new ones as it hoped. That led to disastrous financial results this year and forced the company to change its strategy.

While CEO Ron Johnson emphasized at an analysts' meeting Wednesday in Dallas that change will take time, some investors weren't willing to make another long-term bet on the retailer.

Shares plunged 11.2 percent to close at $25.83 Thursday.

J.C. Penney's revamp has been painful. The retailer did away with coupons and frequent sales in favor of “everyday low pricing” earlier this year, but the move upset and confused some shoppers. So it brought back some sales and tweaked its advertising in July.

J.C. Penney is still trying to overcome that misstep and slow sales. It expects the financial drag will linger through the year but thinks new store designs will help its business in the long run.

The Plano, Texas, company unveiled a new store prototype Wednesday that got great reviews. It features an array of mini-boutiques with brand names such as Disney, Liz Claiborne and Carter's that build on its earlier success with brands like Levi's and Sephora that put stores within its stores to draw new shoppers.

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