J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) finally came out with their Q4 numbers, forced into it by the plunge of their stock and bond prices. And the numbers are, ho hum. Essentially in line with guidance. By my estimate, November was by far the best month with a positive 10% comp, followed by December which was essentially flat to slightly down and January which was down mid single digits - largely due to the frost that hit the country. The Company reiterated its liquidity numbers so things are more or less as I expected. Had they just said all this back in early January, I think the stock would be meaningfully higher. Now, its just on a reprieve from going down daily.
This news is significant on a couple of fronts. For the first time in ages, the Company comped positively for an entire quarter - good. The Company also met its liquidity guidance which is what shareholders need to make it through these next two years as the Company regains sales from the Ron Johnson era. Importantly, the dire 6% negative December comp. that some on this site weere projecting was just wrong and full of fear-mongering.
A company that has this news in its pocket and chooses not to give it when investors fear far worse needs a new CEO and certainly a new IR team. I believe the next meaningful catalyst will be a dynamic CEO who will take this brand to the next level but in a measured way that RJ never tried. These numbers are the base and stability that we need to get to flat to positive free cash flow this year. In this impossible retail tape where even Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) are missing, JCP held its own. Now, it needs to grow.
Disclosure: I am long JCP. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Additional disclosure: positions can and do change without notice or warning.