IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

J.C. Penney sales plunge more than expected

J.C. Penney Co. reported on Wednesday that sales at stores open at least a year fell 31.7 percent in the fourth quarter, steeper than the 27.8 percent drop analysts expected.

The poor results for the quarter, which included the holiday season, capped a rough first year for Penney's turnaround. The company's shares fell 4.9 percent in after hours trading.

Penney reported a net loss of $552 million, or $2.51 per share in the 14 weeks ended Feb. 2, compared with a loss of $87 million, or $0.41 per share for a 13-week period a year earlier.

Excluding restructuring charges and non cash pension plan expenses, the company posted an adjusted loss of $1.95 per share. It was not immediately clear how that compared with Wall Street estimates for a much smaller loss.

Gross margin was 23.8 percent of sales, down 6.4 percentage points from a year earlier. The company blamed lower-than-expected sales and a higher level of sales on clearance.

The department store chain had $930 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the quarter.