J.C. Penney Co. Inc. yesterday reported a net profit for its fiscal third quarter compared with a loss last year, an improvement attributed to better results at its department stores along with higher operating margins.
Catalog sales fell 17.7 percent. However, department stores and catalog gross margin increased 140 basis points as a percent of sales, primarily as a result of strong consumer response to back-to-school and fall merchandise offerings along with improved inventory productivity, the company said.
Net income for the period ended Oct. 27 totaled $31 million, compared with a $30 million loss last year.
Earnings from continuing operations, before one-time items,
amounted to 13 cents per share as opposed to a loss of 24 cents last year. Wall Street analysts' estimates ranged from 11 cents to 15 cents, with the consensus at 13 cents, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. The company had forecast earnings of 11 cents to 15 cents per share.
Penney reported fiscal third-quarter total sales of $7.73 billion last week, up 2.5 percent from $7.54 billion last year. Same-store sales improved 5.1 percent, while Eckerd drugstore's same-store sales rose 8.4 percent.
Department store operating profit increased 83 percent to $148 million.