J.C. Penney Earnings Preview: How Bad Will It Be?

By Benzinga | February 25, 2014 AAA

Struggling retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP), which George Soros's hedge fund recently exited, is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year results Wednesday, February 26, after the closing bell.

Among other things, investors will have an eye on the company's liquidity and its profit margins. The former is likely J.C. Penney's largest problem right now, and the latter has to improve if efforts to turn the company around are having any effect.

See also: Brian Sozzi's Retail Roundup: J.C. Penney

Expectations

Analysts on average predict that J.C. Penney will say its revenue for the quarter fell slightly year-over-year to $3.86 billion. A net loss of $0.82 per share is also in the consensus forecast. That would compare to net losses of $1.85 per share in the previous period and $1.95 per share in the same period of last year.

Note that the consensus estimate was for a net loss $0.66 just 60 days ago. Also note that J.C. Penney reported greater-than-expected net losses in the previous four quarters, though the miss in the third quarter was by less than five percent.

In the third-quarter report, management patted itself on the back for reconnecting with its customers. The results were a disappointment, but investors liked the improved forecast. The share price was almost seven percent higher a week after the third-quarter report.

The analysts' consensus full-year forecast calls for a net loss of $6.11 per share on revenue of $11.93 billion. That compares with a net loss of $3.50 per share and $12.98 billion in sales in the previous year. Just 60 days ago, the analysts on average had the net loss pegged at $6.01 per share.

The Company

J.C. Penney operates approximately 1,100 department stores. Its wares include apparel and footwear, accessories, fine and fashion jewelry, beauty products, as well as home furnishings. It also offers various services, such as styling salon, optical, portrait photography and custom decorating.

This former iconic catalog retailer was founded in 1902, and its headquarters are in Plano, Texas. It currently has a market capitalization near $1.6 billion. Myron E. Ullman has been chief executive officer of the company since April 8, 2013, though he was also CEO from December 2004 to February 2012.

Competitors include Kohl's (NASDAQ: M). The former is expected to post declines in EPS and sales, relative to a year ago, when it next reports Thursday. The latter is expected to show EPS growth but slightly smaller revenues in its Tuesday report.

During the three months that ended in January, J.C. Penney reported strong November sales, said it would focus on private label brands in 2014, announced 33 store closings, released its 2013 sustainability report and amended its shareholder rights plan to protect tax benefits.

See also: Retailers On The Ropes: 7 Companies Expected To Have A Difficult 2014

Performance

J.C. Penney's return on equity and operating margin are both in negative territory. It has no long-term earnings growth forecast; it is not expected to be profitable this year, though analysts do predict some revenue growth. The company also does not offer a dividend.

The number of J.C. Penney shares sold short, as of the most recent settlement date, represents about 40 percent of the total float. That was the highest level of short interest in the past year. It would take more than four days to close out all of the short positions.

For the past three months, the consensus recommendation of the analysts surveyed by Thomson/First Call who follow the stock has been to hold shares. Yet the analysts' mean price target, or where they expect the stock to go, is more than 33 percent higher than the current share price.

The share price is down more than 36 percent year to date, after hitting a multiyear low in the first week of February. It is currently below the 50-day and 200-day moving averages. Over the past six months, the stock has underperformed not only the competitors mentioned above, but also the broader markets.

At the time of this writing, the author had no position in the mentioned equities.

Keep up with all the latest breaking news and trading ideas by following us on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus
Related Analysis
  1. Earnings Expectations For The Week Of September 15
    Stock Analysis

    Earnings Expectations For The Week Of September 15

  2. Nasty Reviews Unlikely To Hurt Activision's 'Destiny'
    Stock Analysis

    Nasty Reviews Unlikely To Hurt Activision's 'Destiny'

  3. 3 Nuclear Energy Projects That Could Begin Soon
    Stock Analysis

    3 Nuclear Energy Projects That Could Begin Soon

  4. First Negative Week in a Month? - Ahead of Wall Street
    Stock Analysis

    First Negative Week in a Month? - Ahead of Wall Street

  5. Bull of the Day: Methode Electronics (MEI) - Bull of the Day
    Stock Analysis

    Bull of the Day: Methode Electronics (MEI) - Bull of the Day

Trading Center