Penney Ends 2009 Above Plan

The final numbers are in for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2009 for J.C. Penney Co., and while they aren’t impressive, they did exceeded the company’s expectations.

Fourth-quarter sales for the general merchant decreased 3.6%, to $5.55 billion, compared to $5.75 billion last year. Same-store sales slipped 4.5% for the period ended Jan. 31, 2010. Net income shrank nearly 5.2%, to $200 million, down from $211 million in the fourth quarter last year.

The Plano, TX-based company said in a release that its weakest results were in the home division and the Northwest region.
For fiscal 2009, J.C. Penney’s sales fell 5%, to $17.55 billion, down from $18.48 billion. Net income dropped 56%, to $251 million, compared to $572 million last year.

“J.C. Penney far exceeded its expectations and objectives for the year,” said Penney chairman/CEO Myron E. (Mike) Ullman III in the release. “By stepping up the style of the merchandise we offer customers and enhancing service in our stores, we were able to drive cash generation and profitability, in spite of the difficult economic climate.”

Ullman credits the results to Penney disciplined approach to inventory planning, promotions and SG&A, “particularly in the fourth quarter with a planned lower sales volume. As a result, we were able to achieve new peak gross margin levels for the year, which led to better-than-expected profitability and cash flow generation.”

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