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J.C. Penney: A Poor Excuse for a Pathetic Company

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) doesn't even know how to properly wallow in absurdity.

As expected, after another earnings debacle, the company shamefully employs Bill Ackman and Ron Johnson as scapegoats.

From the JCP earnings press release:
There are no quick fixes to correct the errors of the past.

That's really all you need to know. It's not as if I'm leaving out some important context that details exciting innovation at JCP. If I'm an investor, I'm furious. Very little has changed.

Here's a company that should be thanking Ackman and Johnson because, no doubt, we can logically link them to JCP's swift downfall. Now current management can harness this built-in excuse to buy itself time as it digs from the same failed bag of standard retail tricks.

It's not as if JCP was a stable business before Ron Johnson arrived. In fact, it's a bit like the 2011 version of Netflix (NFLX - Get Report). With or without Qwikster and Reed Hastings' price hike, Netflix was set to implode. The circus Hastings created simply allowed him to focus on it, rather than the company's core issues.

So that's what JCP is doing. Dragging the puck as it feebly attempts to dig itself out of a mess it conveniently credits to Ackman and Johnson.

Don't get me wrong, JCP was profitable before the former Apple (AAPL - Get Report) executive took over. The company actually saw sales increase slightly in 2010 and reported earnings of $0.28 per share, net income of $64 million and 3.8 percent in same store sales growth for Q1 2011, just before it gave Johnson the CEO gig.

To sit here and argue how quickly Johnson accelerated JCP's decline, how much better off the company would be if he never left Apple and to dwell on the past distracts from the meaningful noise most brick and mortar retailers choose to ignore.

How does physical retail escape the culture of obviousness that holds it back? That keeps it from evolving with the rest of the world.

Addressing past mistakes out of the same textbook that helped create them will do little more than bring JCP back to mediocrity, if that.

Sadly, JCP's Board of Directors doesn't have the vision to rid itself of blamers and old-school physical retail lifers in favor of the tech mindset, staff and strategies that have made Starbucks ( SBUX - Get Report ) one of the few retailers prepared for the mobile, digital and connected future.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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