Seeking Alpha

Jan Rogers Kniffen

Jan Rogers Kniffen
Send Message
View as an RSS Feed
View Jan Rogers Kniffen's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • J.C. Penney: Back By Popular Demand [View article]
    I have one comment to add here. "Their raising prices to promote artificially higher percentage off sales is disingenuous at best and deceptive at worst." I have been involved in retail for 50 years, twenty of those years in department stores. The person commenting obviously has not. Mark up to mark down is the method of pricing for 80% of the retail industry (excluding Walmart), and 95% of the department store industry. It may not be the best strategy, but it is certainly the most common strategy. The most successful department store company in the history of department store retailing, Macy, uses the mark up to mark down method of pricing, identical to what is used for Penney. The only reason it is news at Penney is that Ron Johnson got rid of that methodology for a brief shining moment of retail history. I am happy to entertain complaints about Penney or the industry, but not that one.
    Mar 21 02:18 PM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • J.C. Penney: No Bankruptcy; Target $10 On Short Covering [View article]
    I am the Jan Kniffen quoted in the article above. While I find the article interesting and entertaining, I do not see anything heroic needed for JCP to be cash flow neutral, without asset sales, for 2014. Yes, they need positive store for store comps in the mid single digit or better range, steadily improving gross margins, a little better payables leveraging, and a little better inventory turn, but all of those are within the "norms" of an improving department store. I am not playing down the risk of execution here, but it does not take heroic results, just normalization. And, JCP has just added an extremely capable retail "operating" CFO, Ed Record, that makes all of the above more likely.
    Feb 28 02:05 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why I'm Not Concerned About Target's Security Breach [View article]
    Your points are all correct, but what I meant by shopping less "on average" is that if 97% of your customers continue to do what they have always done and 3% go elsewhere, you lose "on average" 3% of sales. That sounds small, but in a big box retailer that would be a disaster.
    Feb 13 10:28 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why I'm Not Concerned About Target's Security Breach [View article]
    I admit that I am much more concerned with Target's low ROI incursion into Canada, its low ROI implementation of REDcard, and its low ROI investment in the huge remodel program that is pFresh than I am about the data breach. And, I have not done any sort of survey of customers regarding their willingness to shop at TGT since the breach. But, remember, customers do not have to "quit shopping" at Target for the breach to be a huge disaster. All they have to do, on average, is shop "a little less" at Target. A few percentage point loss in store for store sales versus the trend is a disaster in retailing.
    Feb 10 10:43 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Can J.C. Penney Be Saved? [View article]
    OK, I confess I love reading Retail Maven's articles on JCP, but in this case his ideas seem only marginally less insane than RJ's did. Admittedly, Penney may not make it with Mike's current strategy, but they sure as heck are not going to make it with yet another new retailing strategy at this point in the game. Some of RM's ideas are good, some of RJ's ideas were good as well, but now we live or die with Mike's view of how to get his traditional customer back. I think JCP will just get gradually better from here, avoid bankruptcy or another equity raise, and start to see nicely improved gross margins and bottom line profits, but either way, changing the game now just cannot be done.
    Jan 28 09:54 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • J.C. Penney: Why Preserve NOLs If There Aren't Future Profits? [View article]
    Dante has this one right. The "lowering of the threshold" has nothing to do with activist investors, it is merely to protect from an inadvertent triggering of an IRS determination of a change in ownership. (Nothing to see here:) On the other hand, I do not think that Mike taking on outside responsibilities portends anything regarding a new CEO. But, I do think JCP is very close to having a new CEO, nonetheless.
    Jan 28 09:35 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • J.C. Penney Should Have Dropped Martha Stewart Years Ago [View article]
    sfinvestor, you are mistaken that nothing has changed in the JCP home store. I have been in a JCP somewhere in America every day since November 17, and before that I was in one at least twice a week since I attended Ron Johnson's Fresh Air meeting. I have watched the transformation both ways, having been at the store tours in Texas unveiling the new home store as well as the sneak preview in Florida and at the home store unveiling party in NYC where most of the new home designers, including Martha were in attendance. When it was as "done" as it ever got (and it never got "done" since the coffee kiosks, ice cream stands, etc never showed up) we began describing the home store as Brigadoon, and the description was appropriate given the "finished" home store's longevity. The home store is dramatically different from the home store we called Brigadoon. The towels are now back in classification as opposed to by brand. Opening price points are back. The wide aisles that were going to be kiosks are now filled with bins of opening price point product. The Cooks private label is back. A full line of luggage is back. So are opening price point small electrics. Bodum is gone in most stores and Michael Graves is being cleared in most stores. Martha Celebrations and Everyday are being wound down, and it is obvious when you are in the store. Yes, furniture, which is very slow turning, is still too high and there is still too much of it. They probably need another quarter at least and maybe two to fix that. But, they are in progress on that initiative. But, stepping away from the home for a second, apparel was in very good shape for the holiday season with the return of St John's Bay and with much more opening price point goods. I think apparel is probably 85% there and will be 100% there by the end of Q1. There are reasons to be wary of JCP, not the least of which is risk, but arguing that nothing has changed is just wrong.
    Jan 7 03:29 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • J.C. Penney Should Have Dropped Martha Stewart Years Ago [View article]
    Quoth the Raven, did you not get the memo that JCP is basically exiting Martha Stewart? All they are trying to do now is minimize the payments to Macy and the losses on Martha and Martha designed product as they wind down this Ron Johnson generated debacle. Go look for another argument for your short case, this one no longer has legs.
    Jan 6 12:40 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Francesca's Holdings Corp. And The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz [View article]
    I love the analogy to Dorothy and the wizard. But, it might have been more appropriate to cite "ignore that man behind the curtain." The wizard turned out to be a charlatan, no different, no better, no less flawed nor more flawed, than any other man. Such is Francesca's. I like the small footprint, it gives them a better chance to drive sales per square foot. But, unlike the writer, in my more than 100 visits to the stores this year, I do not see anything special. FRAN is no longer the new, new thing. I do not see what drives this business in the hyper competitive world of missy apparel and accessories.
    Dec 20 03:50 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 3 Major Events To Watch Before Buying This Best Of Breed Retailer [View article]
    In 2006 I used to describe Target as "the best retailer in the world." While there may have been a little hyperbole in that statement, there was not much. Today I reserve that accolade for Costco. Since 2006 Target has lost it's "cool factor." It is no longer the place for "shabby chic". But, worse than that, it has lost its way on presenting the consumer with novel product. It no longer has cutting edge advertising. Its in stock positions measured at the shelf are worse than Walmart's. Its product display has lost its edge. The pfresh grocery program is a high investment/low ROI business that puts Target in more direct competiton with the low cost player in the space...Walmart. The REDcard "loyalty" program is no more than a discount program dressed up like a loyalty program. It requires no return visit for a benefit. It, too, is high investment/low ROI. And, finally, the foray into Canada had way too high a price tag for entry into a market that so far is a disappointment. Canada also looks like a high investment/low ROI project. Target is unlikely to be winner no matter what they show for Q3 results.
    Nov 20 03:51 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • ModernGraham Valuation Of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. [View article]
    Why on Earth would any investor in Walmart care about a "healthy" current ratio? This is one of the few A rated retailers on the planet. Judging its financial risk by looking at its current ratio is absurd. You need a new test. All the current ratio calculation shows you about Walmart is how incredibly efficient they have become. They essentially have learned to operate a 500 billion dollar enterprise with someone else's money funding the inventory.
    Nov 20 01:41 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Sears Be The Next Amazon? [View article]
    Anyone who knows that Macy/ Home Depot has spent four to six times as much on its stores as Sears/Kmart and says that, therefore, tales of Eddie neglecting the stores is "largely unfounded" clearly has not set foot in a Kmart or a Sears in a while.
    Nov 6 08:11 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Macy's playing the Thanksgiving Day game, but online might be where it's at [View news story]
    Well, no, apparently nothing is sacred. For years retailers were not open on Sunday in most states. If the shopping public had not wanted to shop on Sunday, retailers would not open on Sunday just to lose money. Today, Sunday is the third biggest selling day of the week exceeded only by Saturday and Friday. Retailers did not cause the demise of Sunday as a day of rest, they reacted to it. The same can be said for "open 24 hours" at Walmart, and for earlier and earlier openings on Black Friday. The shopper is very good at getting what he or she wants from shopping hours, to free shipping, to bargain prices. The retailer just tries to make a living reacting to that.
    Oct 16 08:42 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Macy's playing the Thanksgiving Day game, but online might be where it's at [View news story]
    Macy's was hardly a "holdout." Macy was the first department store to go to the midnight opening schedule in order to capture the millennial customer.
    Oct 14 03:27 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Real Takeover Candidate In Teen Retailing [View article]
    I would not run out and try to buy Forever 21 or Brandy Mehlville instead of ANF. The families that own those two fabulous private companies are not taking on new investors:)
    Sep 26 04:09 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment