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J.C. Penney: Turning Around Or Trending Down?

  • The company continues to return to its roots of weekly promotions and private label brands.
  • Almost all key metrics are trending higher.
  • Key personnel acquisitions will help drive eCommerce growth.

In FY 13, under the leadership of then CEO Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) initiated a multi-year project to transform J.C. Penney in America's favorite department store by FY 16, through "everyday low pricing" and a brand-centric specialty department store format. We all know how that fared.

JCP's transformation failed to resonate with customers and on April 8, 2013, Mike Ullman was named a Ron Johnson's successor as CEO. Having served as chairman and CEO of JCP from December 2004 through October 2011, Ullman's experience is exactly what the struggling retailer needed to get back on track. Under Ullman's leadership, JCP began the arduous task of essentially undoing everything Ron Johnson put in place. JCP's new strategic road map included returning to its promotional pricing strategy, and a reintroduction of popular private label brands that were previously dropped. On the financial side of things, JCP also enhanced its liquidity through the issuance of a $2.25 billion senior secured term loan, which helped the company buy back its outstanding 7.125% notes due in 2024. Along with that term loan, management also made the controversial decision to dilute existing shareholders through the issuance of 84 million shares for net proceeds of $785 million.

On August 1st, Marvin Ellison, the former executive vice president of stores at Home Depot (NYSE:HD), assumed the CEO position, and began further reshaping the company using the skills and industry expertise he honed while transforming Home Depot into the home improvement behemoth it is today.

Financial Performance: