J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get Report is optimistic about 2009 -- and that's is a big statement from a department store, one of the sectors hardest hit by the recession.

At the Reuters Global Retail Summit in New York on Wednesday CEO Myron "Mike" Ullman said the fourth-quarter could hold the most potential for the company, which should start to see the benefit of new style at affordable prices, Reuters reported.

J.C. Penney posted a 8.3% decline in May same-store sales, but this number was slightly less than competitor

Macy's

(M) - Get Report

, which saw a 9.1% drop.

Sales are being driven by off-mall stores, Ullman said at the Reuters conference.

The company's

first-quarter profit took a 79% hit

, hurt by heft pension expense. J.C. Penney said it anticipates a loss in the second quarter of 15 cents to 25 cents per share.

Regardless of this upbeat news, shares of the department store dipped 2% to $28.47 in afternoon trading.