In terms of improving gross margins, better up than down. But there is still a long way to go. When Penney's was marginally profitable between 2007 and 2011, gross margins averaged 38.8%; for the latest fiscal year that figure was 29.4%.
Finally, the uptick in online sales -- solid, perhaps better than many expected -- still represents just 10% of the company's total revenue. J.C. Penney is still a brick and mortar, mall-based business, and that represents one of its challenges.
I like a turnaround story as much as the next value investor, and would like to see J.C. Penney make a go of it. It's just difficult to get too excited at this point. We've had several other little pockets of enthusiasm for the stock over the past year, and each has ended in the next piece of disappointing news.
I expect the company will continue to trade like an option in terms of volatility, representing a bet on the company's viability.
But J.C. Penney is still not good enough at this point for this deep-value dumpster diver.
At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.