Poached Apples: An 'On Point' Corporate Strategy

| About: J.C. Penney (JCP)

I'm not much of a television viewer, however several shows keep my interest. Or, more accurately, they give my brain a rest. That's one role television should play in our lives. Practically every night, for instance, I watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri on the Food Network. Despite my annoyance with Fieri's penchant to like every meal he tries (how is this possible?), I love the man. And I find myself using one of his catch phrases to describe situations that simply make sense.

Consider J.C. Penney's (NYSE:JCP) decision to hire a former Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) executive as its new CEO - it's "on point." And not just because Rob Johnson, who runs Apple's retail operation, gets it. It's more than that. It's a bit like applying the way Fieri does television to old, boring traditional programming as a means to refresh it and bring it into 2011. If you've ever set foot in a J.C. Penney store, my analogy makes sense.

I don't have much doubt that Johnson comes into J.C. Penney with two conditions -tabula rasa and carte blanche. Here's a snip from the above-referenced WSJ story:

Mr. Johnson has won kudos for reinventing the concept of the retail store at Apple. Apparel retailers have long admired Apple's store environments, including their spare, uncluttered layout and use of handheld checkout devices.

J.C. Penney, a company I have been somewhat bullish on for a while, becomes one of - but not the first - to turn its admiration into reality. It's a bit like finally asking her out on a date as opposed to dreaming of how nice it would be to date her.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) made a similar move about a year ago when it hired a former Apple and Gap (NYSE:GPS) retail executive to guide its unique retail strategy. Thus far, it has paid dividends, given the success of the company's early experimentation with Apple-like car dealerships.

As of this writing - midday Tuesday - JCP touched an intraday high of $35.21. It's gyrating around the upper $34.00 range. My Schwab account shows JCP as "hard to borrow," which leads me to believe that plenty of shorts got caught off guard by the news. Once the dust - and the covering settles - I think JCP, alongside TSLA, makes for a nice long-term investment. I like both companies' aggressive plays and innovative retail approaches. I do hope, however, that the hiring of Johnson also marks a move toward serving higher-end customers at J.C. Penney.

Disclosure: I am long TSLA.

Additional disclosure: I may initiate a long or short position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article at any time.