JCP home biz firming up, fiscal year guidance raised

Plano, Texas – J. C. Penney Company, Inc. said the pulse of its home business started to pick up during the second quarter, particularly in the bath, housewares and gift categories.

“It is fair to say that home has been soft for most home retailers for now over a year …but we’re starting to see some life in all aspects of our home business, but the strength is still in our bath area, and in housewares and in gifts,” said Mike Ullman, chairman and ceo, during the 1,048-unit department store’s quarterly conference call today.

However, “big-ticket home categories,” noted president and cmo Ken Hicks, experienced “softer trends.”

Merchandise-wise, in general, JCP’s private brands continue to outperform the store average, benefiting from the success newer brands, such as the retailer’s own Studio by Home Collection.

The back-to-school season, while still early in the game, is “off to a good start.” While apparel and shoes for kids, teens and college-bound students is front and center in the assortment, the Dorm Shop is seeing expanded product category offerings, especially in bedding, Hicks said.

For the second quarter ended Aug. 4, JCP reported net income of $182 million, or 81 cents per share, up 1.7%. Sales rose 3.6% to $4.4 billion, and comps increased 1.9%.

For the first half, net income climbed 8.0% to $420 million, or $1.85 per share. Sales rose 3.3% to $8.7 billion.

Today, JCP also raised its earnings guidance for the fiscal year by one penny to $5.50.

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