File photo of Ron Johnson, CEO of JC Penney, in Dallas on Sept. 10, 2012 (© Brandon Wade-Invision for JCPenny -AP Images)
J.C. Penney (JCP) Chief Executive Ron Johnson is certainly killing it, but not in the way that shareholders had hoped. 

The former Apple executive was brought in to revive the more than 100-year-old retail chain, but a series of missteps has left the department store in more desperate shape than when he found it. 

On Wednesday, the company reported a complete disaster of a holiday quarter, with more than half a billion dollars in losses over just three months. Sales during the period -- the most important one for retailers -- plunged 28.4% from a year earlier. The shares took a nosedive today, with the stock declining at one point by 22%, the biggest intraday drop since at least 1980, according to Bloomberg

While Johnson had predicted some rocky moments as he tried to refashion Penney, yesterday's bloodbath probably wasn't what he -- or shareholders -- had had in mind. Now, some investors and observers are speculating how much longer the would-be savior CEO will keep his job. 

Here are four missteps Johnson has made, which led to yesterday's terrible earnings report: 

Failing to test: When a colleague suggested to Johnson that the company test a new no-discounts strategy, he bristled, according to The Wall Street Journal. "We didn't test at Apple," Johnson reportedly said. By all accounts, the no-discounts strategy alienated many of the company's loyal customers. 

Expecting shoppers to act like Apple fans: Johnson, who created Apple's retail stores, got rid of coupons and sales, adopting a strategy of take-it-or-leave-it pricing on clothing. The problem? Penney shoppers aren't like Apple's fans, willing to pay a premium for the latest gadget. As the Harvard Business Review notes, Penney "sells fairly commoditized products."

Creating a legal mess with Macy's: Johnson lured domestic doyenne Martha Stewart into a deal to create a "store within a store" at Penney. The problem? She already had a deal with Macy's (M). Johnson's move has embroiled his company in a lawsuit from Macy's, with an embarrassing trial underway right now. 

Advertising disconnect: While some have lauded Johnson's fresh advertising approach, Penney's marketing has left some consumers confused. Its ads tout a fresh image, but as Mediapost points out, that doesn't "mesh with what's currently in the stores." 

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