J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

reported a narrower loss than analysts expected for the second quarter, but the company offered a somewhat cautious view on its expected third-quarter profit.

The company posted a second-quarter loss of 2 cents a share, compared with a loss of 5 cents a share in last year's quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for a loss of 5 cents.

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Sales rose slightly to $7.313 billion from $7.198 billion. Department store and catalog sales were up 1% to $3.658 billion from $3.623 billion, and same-store sales climbed 2.1%. Second-quarter revenue at Eckerd drugstores rose 2.3% to $3.655 billion, while same-store sales slipped 0.8%.

Allen Questrom, J.C. Penney's chairman and CEO, said he was pleased with the rebound in department stores and encouraged by the turnaround in catalog and Internet sales, but that Eckerd's sales and operating profits were disappointing.

"As we begin the second half, we anticipate benefits from a more favorable consumer environment supported by the positive impacts that the tax package will have on our customers," he said in a press release.

The company expects department store and catalog/Internet sales to continue improving in the second half, beginning with the back-to-school selling season. At Eckerd, J.C. Penney said it was making changes to improve the business. Eckerd's operating earnings are likely to be below last year's level in the third quarter, and about equal to last year's profit in the fourth quarter.

On a consolidated basis, the company expects third-quarter earnings of 25 cents to 30 cents a share and a full-year profit of $1.25 to $1.35 a share. Wall Street is looking for a profit of 30 cents a share in the third quarter and $1.31 for the fiscal year.