By Lauren Coleman-Lochner
J.C. Penney Co., the U.S. department-store chain run by Apple Inc.’s former retail chief, posted a fourth-quarter loss on charges to revamp the company.
The loss totaled $87 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with net income of $271 million, or $1.13, a year earlier, the Plano, Texas-based retailer said. Excluding restructuring costs, profit was 74 cents a share. Analysts projected 67 cents, the average of 12 estimates.
Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson, who took over in November, is overhauling pricing and store design to revive sales and lure shoppers from Macy’s and Target.
Last month, J.C. Penney cut its forecast for the fourth quarter, citing declining sales and deeper discounts than anticipated during the holiday shopping season.
Shares of the company gained 8.8 percent last year.
In January, Johnson announced a three-tier pricing system and detailed plans to convert stores into a collection of branded shops surrounding a central space for events and services.
Fourth-quarter revenue fell 4.9 percent to $5.43 billion.
Fitch Ratings downgraded J.C. Penney’s issuer default ratings on Feb. 21 to BB+, one step below investment grade, from BBB- and cited “significant execution risk” from Johnson’s new strategy in the next 12 to 18 months.
“The jury remains out on whether consumers will buy into the new pricing structure and whether or not the company can turn around faltering sales and sustainably improve the profitability of its business,” wrote Monica Aggarwal, a Fitch analyst in New York.