JCPenney Company reported fiscal third quarter results that were significantly better than initial expectations and showed further improvement in cash flow performance, reflecting the continued successful execution of its Bridge Plan strategy.
Total net sales for the quarter were down 3.2% to $4.18 billion with comparable store sales down 4.6%. The strongest merchandise results were in shoes and women’s apparel, and geographically, the best performance was in the southwest region of the country. The weakest results were in fine jewelry and in the northwest region.
“JCPenney’s third quarter results reflect the success of our strategy to balance top line performance with bottom line profitability,” said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and chief executive officer of JCPenney. “Our ability to deliver earnings above original expectations resulted from better than expected improvement in gross margin as we have maintained appropriate inventory levels and reduced both clearance selling and unprofitable discounting.”
During the third quarter, the company opened three new stores, all in the off-mall format. These openings completed the 2009 new store program and brought the total of new and relocated stores for the year to 17.
Looking ahead, management has raised its full year expectations for comparable store sales and earnings. For fiscal 2009, comparable store sales are now expected to decrease 6.5% to 7%. The company had previously provided expectations that full year comparable store sales would decrease approximately 7% to 7.5%.