J.C. Penney's ( JCP) per-share profit plunged more than 30% in its first quarter on declining sales, the department-store chain reported on Tuesday.

In the quarter ended April 26, J.C. Penney earned $61 million, or 20 cents a share. That was down from the year-ago period, in which the retailer earned $86 million, or 29 cents a share.

On a year-over-year basis, the company's revenue fell 3% to $7.49 billion.

In a statement, company CEO Allen Questrom blamed the company's results, in part, on the "difficult retailing environment."

"Although I am disappointed with the company's execution, results for the first quarter should not detract from the significant progress that we have made in improving the fundamentals of our business over the past two years," Questrom said in the statement.

Despite the drop in sales and profits, J.C. Penney's bottom line still beat Wall Street expectations. Analysts were expecting the Plano, Texas-based company to earn 18 cents a shares.

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