JC Penney falls after Credit Suisse forecast

Despite introducing new merchandising and pricing policies, the retailer continues to stumble.

By Benzinga Jul 11, 2012 1:13PM
Image: Woman shopping in interior design shop, side view © Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesBy Brett Callwood, Benzinga Staff Writer

Department store operator JC Penney (JCP) will likely see second-quarter sales fall more than the 20% witnessed during the first-quarter.

According to MarketWatch, the company has attempted to overhaul merchandising and pricing, but the efforts have failed to bring in customers.

In a report published on Tuesday, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Exstein doubled the second-quarter loss estimate from 19 cents to 38 cents per share. On Wednesday afternoon, JCP was trading around $20.35, down more than 7% since Tuesday.

For the full year, Exstein's estimate fell to $1.07 of profit per share from $1.16. He wrote that, "A combination of poor messaging, tampering with the merchandise flow, and a slowing of the overall retail environment seem to have contributed to the current state of business."

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal revealed Tuesday that JC Penney is cutting 350 more jobs at its headquarters, the final phase of its home-office restructuring. The company had already said that it would be cutting 600 of the 4,400 employees at its corporate headquarters.

The Journal reports that the cuts will be in in the areas of information technology, finance, product development and sourcing, or product procurement. None of those areas were affected by the first round of layoffs.

"We have simplified processes, removed unnecessary work and reduced layers to help us make better and faster decisions," said CEO Ron Johnson in a statement. "While difficult, these decisions are in the long-term interests of [the company] and our stakeholders."

Over the July 4 weekend, JC Penney reverted to a policy of hosting sales. The move was particularly surprising because CEO Ron Johnson, after joining the company in November, had announced that he would be embarking on a new pricing strategy. This strategy was  to avoid sales, instead focusing on consistent lower pricing.

Some investors in JC Penney may have been alarmed by the recent drop in revenue. Johnson's "no sales" strategy has frequently been cited as the culprit -- Penney's customers are used to coupons and the comforting feeling of big sales.

In May, JC Penney announced disappointing first-quarter results. Following that report, Johnson made it clear that he would work to better explain the new pricing strategy.

Whatever the company has tried, the report from Credit Suisse proves that it is not working.

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