Google GoodsAfter George Reyes , Google's CFO, said that growth rates would slow, the stock got hammered, Task said. Willard's take on the action was that Reyes said nothing new, but simply reiterated the well-known fact that the law of large numbers would catch up to the company and that it will have to figure out new ways to grow.
Task pointed out that sometimes the fundamentals don't matter as much as the action in a stock, and now that Google has had its second big fall in the year, Task wanted to know where Willard sees it heading.Given all the gyrations, the sentiment and the technicals are too jumbled to know what the stock will do in the near term, Willard said. But Willard likes the long-term story, saying that Google is one of his top-five positions and that he plans "to own Google forever." Mike Ullman, CEO of J.C. Penney ( JCP), joined Task to talk about his company's turnaround story. Same-store sales were up 2.3% in February, more than double expectations, and Ullman said that the company has seen consistent growth over the last several years in accessories, shoes and home goods. Apparel has been up and down based on weather trends, he said. "We've transitioned from being a turnaround to a growth story," Ullman said, citing the fact that the store has finally brought in better styles and that it has something to offer that is "legitimately compelling." But there's still room to grow, because 50% of all middle-income women shop at J.C. Penney, he said. Task said he has heard that mall anchor stores such as J.C. Penney are doing better than specialty stores. Ullman said he couldn't comment on whether that was true, but he did say that his company's three divisions -- catalog, online and stores -- are working together seamlessly. He also said that his store is focused on the U.S. consumer, that its "core customer is middle America" and that it doesn't have plans for overseas expansion. Task asked if Ullman was worried about rumors that the American consumer is headed for tough times. Ullman said that he believes that middle America is in good shape and that the economy is generally pretty strong. That is one reason why the company held the J.C. Penney experience in New York City, setting up a 15,000-sqaure-foot virtual store in the heart of Times Square, to expose the general public and the press to the store's own designer and exclusive brands.