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J.C. Penney (JCP) Surges on Thursday, But Down Over Week

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What a rollercoaster of a week J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) has had and it's not even Friday. The retailer spiked 8.2% to $5.65 by midafternoon Thursday, buoyed by a Kohl's-led (KSS - Get Report) retailer rally and as the S&P 500 added 1.11% on jobless claims.

Even so, the retailer is down 4.5% for the week, after dumping nearly 11% in Tuesday's session.

Earlier in the week, the Plano, Texas-based business posted a financial update which should have pleased Wall Street with its indication of a turnaround gaining momentum.

The company said combined comparable-store sales over November and December, the critically-important holiday season, were up 3.1% over the same period last year. For the full quarter, comps rose around 2%, the first positive quarterly sales result since the second quarter 2011.

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For the fourth quarter, J.C. Penny's e-commerce sales jumped 26.3% over the year-ago quarter.

Additionally, the company closed fiscal 2013 with total available liquidity in excess of $2 billion.

"Steady improvements in our business show that the Company's turnaround is on track. In spite of the significant headwinds facing all retailers this season, including unprecedented harsh weather conditions in many parts of the country, we delivered on our promise to generate positive comparable store sales growth in the fourth quarter," said CEO Mike Ullman in a statement.

On Thursday, management said it had entered into a partnership to develop J.C. Penney-owned plots of vacant land near its Texan headquarters. The land, totaling 240 acres, is considered a prime location for office development.

"We have seen a great deal of business and residential growth around the home office over the last 25 years, and now is the time to capitalize on this attractive asset," said Katheryn Burchett, SVP of real estate at J.C. Penney, in a statement.

Contributing to investor appetite for retail stocks Thursday, department store chain Kohl's Corporation popped 3.7% to $51.65 after issuing better-than-expected comparable-store sales. Wisconsin-based Kohl's said comparable-store sales fell 2% over the three months to January, a result of lower traffic and wintry weather last month. Combined November and December comparable sales gained 0.8%.

Sears Holdings (SHLD - Get Report) also benefited from the retail rally, climbing 3.8% to $35.66. From November to Jan. 6, its namesake stores saw same-store sales drop 9.2%, while Kmart experienced a 5.7% fall.

Analyst firm UBS recently decreased its price target for J.C. Penney to $4 from $5 and reiterated its "sell" rating.

The analysts wrote, "We believe JCP's recent decision to close 33 stores highlights the company's efforts to minimize cash burn and downsize to a smaller, more profitable store base. If JCP's SSS cannot accelerate to a +MSD range (or better) we have concerns that there could be downside to our '14 sales, GM, EBITDA and FCF estimates."

J.C. Penney will report fourth-quarter and full-year results after the bell on Feb. 26.

Must read: J.C. Penney Is No Bargain as Volume Soars and Shares Plunge

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KSS $42.44 -3.30%
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