J.C. Penney reports loss but tops expectations

PLANO, Texas - J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) said Friday sales that rose 6.4 percent at established locations in the third quarter and expressed confidence about its ability to compete in the upcoming holiday shopping season.

The department store operator's better-than-expected sales follow disappointing results by Macy's and Nordstrom, which are seen as having more higher-income customers.

J.C. Penney also said its gross margin improved in the quarter, driven by supply chain productivity and improvements in margins for its sale items.

For the full year, the company expects sales to be up between 4 to 5 percent at established locations from the previous year.

But the company, based in Plano, Texas, is still trying to regain its footing and nevertheless reported a loss for the period.

For the quarter ended Oct. 31, the company said its loss narrowed to $137 million, or 45 cents per share. Losses, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 47 cents per share. Analysts had forecast a steeper loss of 58 cents per share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue rose to $2.9 billion, also exceeding Street forecasts of revenue of $2.86 billion.

Penney shares have risen 36 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has risen 13 percent in the last 12 months. Its shares were down 3 percent at $8.53 in premarket trading Friday.