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J.C. Penney gaffe gives investors sneak preview

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J.C. Penney gaffe gives investors sneak preview

A mistake by a senior J.C. Penney executive gave investors a sneak preview of the embattled retailer’s first-quarter sales Tuesday. Required to make the news public to avoid a potential selective-disclosure violation, the department store chain reported that comparable store sales were up about 6% to date.AP EARNS JC PENNEY F USA NY

Taking into account the shift of Easter into the company’s March fiscal month, the Plano, Texas-based firm said comparable stores sales for the first quarter should be in the range of 3.5% to 4.5%. That financial guidance topped the 3.1% expected by financial analysts. But Penney shares nonetheless were down 2.13% at $9.20 in midday trading.

The company declined to identify the executive responsible for the error. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the firm disclosed only that it was a “senior official” who “inadvertently” sent the data to a securities analyst. J.C. Penney is scheduled to report its full first-quarter earnings in May. The company’s shares fell in February after it unexpectedly reported a fourth-quarter loss. J.C. Penney in January announced plans to close 39 underperforming stores and lay off 2,250 employees as the company tries to meet long-term growth goals.