Higher Operating Margins Help Offset Sales Shortfalls at J.C. Penney

Plano, TX–-Cataloger/retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) reported a net profit for its third quarter ended Oct. 27 compared a loss for the same period last year, as improved results at its department stores and higher operating margins boosted results. Net income for the quarter was $31 million, compared to a loss of $30 million a year ago. Penney reported quarterly total sales of $7.73 billion, up 3% from $7.54 billion a year ago.

Penney’s overall catalog and retail sales decreased 1%, to $4.36 billion, from $4.40 billion last year. But although catalog sales alone decreased 18%, the company says the catalog contributed to the operating profit improvement. Comparable store sales increased 5% with most merchandise categories having sales gains. Penney was heartened by what it calls “strong consumer response” to back-to-school and fall merchandise offerings combined with improved inventory productivity.