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Is There Any Hope for J.C. Penney?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Struggling retailer J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) is expected to report yet another big quarterly loss on Wednesday afternoon - the ninth consecutive quarterly loss for the department store chain. Should investors keep hope for this company?

"Let me start off by saying that the turnaround of J.C. Penney is beginning to take hold. We're making significant strides toward restoring J.C. Penney to its rightful place in retail," CEO Mike Ullman said on J.C. Penney's third-quarter earnings call in November.

Despite those encouraging words from Ullman, looking at the preliminary numbers and news coming from the Plano, Texas-based company throughout the January-ending fourth quarter, investors are anything but soothed. J.C. Penney announced on Jan. 15 the closing of 33 stores and elimination of 2,000 positions in order to focus on stores with the "highest potential growth opportunities."

Aside from the doom and gloom, J.C. Penney does have a few bright spots. On Feb. 4, J.C. Penney said fourth-quarter comparable sales were a positive 2%, its first quarterly comp number since 2011. For the nine-week November and December period, comparable store sales rose 3.1% over the same period last year. Sales via jcp.com jumped approximately 26.3%. On Feb. 6, the company announced that it would develop - instead of sell -- land surrounding its headquarters in Plano, Texas. Six days later, it announced it was hiring Ed Record as its new chief financial officer to replace existing CFO Ken Hannah, effective March 24.

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Record, 45, has nearly 25 years of financial and operational performance experience at big retailers. He was most recently as the COO of Stage Stores SSI of Houston managing the financial and operational performance of multiple retailers. Before that he had senior finance roles at Kohl's KSS and before that at Federated stores.

Wall Street investors will be out when Ullman and other management members open up the lines for questions during J.C. Penney's conference call after the markets close. They will want answers answered and accountability.

"No matter what J.C. Penney reports there will be three glaring issues that need addressing by highly paid executives," says Brian Sozzi, CEO of Belus Capital Advisors and a RealMoney contributor. "One, are we done with the store closures? Two, who is running the company in 2014? And three, how does it emotionally feel about its ability to raise more liquidity in 2014?

J.C. Penney is expected to report a loss of 85 cents a share on $3.85 billion of revenue.

 Shares are down roughly 41% since Nov. 20, the day of its third-quarter earnings call. Big investors like George Soros have given up on the stock.

JCP Chart JCP data by YCharts

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