(By Balaseshan) J.C. Penney Co Inc. (NYSE: JCP) posted a quarterly loss as sales plunged and margins contracted sharply and shares of department store chain tumbled 5.95 percent in after trading on Wednesday.
For the three-month period ended Feb. 2, JCP lost $1.95 a share on an adjusted basis, compared with a profit of $0.21 a share in the same period last year. Net loss widened to $552 million from $87 million.
Total net sales fell 28.4 percent to $3.88 billion, trailing consensus estimate of $4.08 billion. Comparable store sales dropped 31.7 percent. Internet sales through jcp.com slumped 34.4 percent.
Gross margin contracted to 23.8 percent from 30.2 percent, hit by lower sales and higher level of clearance merchandise sales related to inventory reductions in 2012.
"We believe the bold actions taken in 2012 will materially improve the Company`s long-term growth and profitability. Looking ahead, we are energized by our shop roll out plans for 2013 and the exciting work our teams are undertaking to transform the store," commented chief executive Ron Johnson.
During spring 2013, the company expects to open nearly 20 shops designated for home products in 505 stores with brand partners such as Michael Graves, Jonathan Adler and Sir Terence Conran, among others.
In addition to transforming the home area, the company will open nearly 700 Joe Fresh apparel shops on March 15, 2013 as it transforms nearly 11 million square feet of retail space in the spring. During the year, the company anticipates opening 60 Sephora inside jcpenney stores, bringing the total to 446.
JCP shares, which have been trading in the 52-week range between $15.69 and $41.65, ended Wednesday's regular session up 0.67 percent at $21.16.