PLANO, Texas, March 10/PRNewswire/ -- J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (JCP) - Get Report announced today that it is moving aggressively to get into the bookstore business by buying a series of smaller bookstores nationwide.
The strategy continues J.C. Penney's expansion plans into declining niches of the brick-and-mortar industry, emphasizing areas where the Net will continue to threaten, if not destroy, all profitability. "We think that this move into bookstores dovetails perfectly with our aggressive drugstore acquisition strategy to move our company squarely into the crosshairs of the Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report-America Online (AOL) high-powered hunting rifle," said a spokesman for the company. "Our next exciting adventures could be in the brick-and-mortar auction house and the brick-and-mortar CD-selling niches, both of which seem ripe for our intervention."
OK, OK, it is a hoax -- just little me having some fun. But think about it: Here is a stock that was pushed very aggressively this morning on
because of its hefty dividend, but I have to think that if sales continue at this anemic pace, the dividend, in my opinion, cannot be considered safe. It pains me to think that people might be buying this stock after that morning push, not knowing that if things continue to deteriorate, there could be a dividend cut.
How bad is it? Well, I would ask, how can a company be below plan this fast? We just set up a plan at the beginning of the year and already JCP is falling short of it. Almost daily! And in the meantime, its response is to do still one more remodeling that has no buzz whatsoever and to continue to buy drugstores! Holy cow, that's not going to turn things around.
I know we have to give these guys their due. They have turned the business around once before; maybe they can do it again. If sales increase later in the year, then sure, it will be intriguing as a dividend play. But right now when I am listening to this excellent
call on why to buy Amazon et al, all I can think of is that when you think about who the big loser is in this new world of e-commerce, the folks at Plano come right to mind.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. At the time of publication, his fund was long America Online and Merrill Lynch, though positions may change at any time. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column by sending an email to email@example.com.