By Michelle Graff
michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com
Plano, Texas--J.C. Penney Co. Inc. released a statement Wednesday commenting on its holiday performance that gave very few details, spurring speculation that the retailer’s turnaround had stalled.

The brief press release said only that the company is “pleased with its performance for the holiday period, showing continued progress in its turnaround efforts. Customers responded well to the company's offerings this holiday shopping season, both in store and online.”

J.C. Penney also reaffirmed its estimates for the fourth quarter 2013 as originally set out in the third quarter earnings release in November, including a prediction that comparable store sales and gross margin would both “improve sequentially and year-over-year” and that total available liquidity is expected to be more than $2 billion by the end of the year.

The company provided no numbers regarding its performance, raising concerns in the market about whether or not the retailer’s turnaround is moving along, especially since it released data between its last quarterly earnings reports stating that comps were up in both October and November.

Same-store sales increased 0.9 percent in the month of October--marking the first time in almost two years since comps were up for J.C. Penney--followed by a 10 percent year-over-year increase in same-store sales in November.

The company did not respond to a request for comment when asked about its holiday sales report.

J.C. Penney’s stock started down at the morning bell on Wednesday, and by about 6 p.m. in the evening, stock had fallen by about 10 percent to $7.37 a share.

“If JCP had good things to say about business trends, the company would have shared more,” Sterne Agee analyst Charles Grom said in a note, according to Reuters. “The slope of the improvement at J.C. Penney needs to be much greater than it is currently tracking.”

J.C. Penney is expected to release its fourth quarter earnings in February.

The retailer has been struggling to win back consumers after the failed turnaround attempt spearheaded by former CEO Ron Johnson. Since then, it’s been cutting back prices to attract shoppers and bringing back the sales events that Johnson got rid of, as well as returning focus to in-house brands such as St. John’s Bay.





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