NEW YORK -- J.C. Penney's ( JCP - Get Report) fourth-quarter loss widened from a year earlier as sales plunged almost 30%.

The department store chain on Wednesday posted a quarterly loss of $552 million, or $2.51 a share, wider than the year-earlier loss of $87 million, or 41 cents a share. The adjusted loss in the period was $1.95 a share; analysts forecast a loss of 18 cents a share.

Fiscal fourth-quarter revenue fell 28.4% to $3.88 billion and same-store sales fell 31.7%. Analysts expected the retailer to post revenue of $4.09 billion.

Why Best Buy Should Love and Embrace

Groupon ( GRPN - Get Report), the daily deals company, missed Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings estimates.

Groupon reported on Wednesday a fourth-quarter adjusted loss of 5 cents a share on revenue of $638.3 million. Analysts were looking for earnings of 3 cents a share on revenue of $638.4 million.

Operating cash flow in the quarter plunged 61% to $65.7 million from $169.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The company provided first-quarter guidance that was sharply below Wall Street expectations. Groupn expects sales to be between $560 million and $610 million, a year-over-year increase of between 0% and 9%. Wall Street analysts are expecting sales of $647.7 million.

Groupon Sinks as Cash Flows Plunge

Sears ( SHLD) is expected by analysts Thursday to post fourth-quarter earnings of 98 cents a share on revenue of $11.77 billion.

Kohl's ( KSS - Get Report) is expected by Wall Street to post fourth-quarter profit of $1.63 a share on revenue of $6.24 billion.

Act Two of This Week's Retail Earnings

The Securities and Exchange Commissioner has escalated an investigation into suspicious trades placed ahead of the $23 billion takeover of H. J. Heinz ( HNZ), focusing on a complex derivative bet routed through London, The New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the matter.

Wall Street expects software company ( CRM - Get Report) to report quarterly earnings of 40 cents a share when it issues its results after the markets close Thursday.

Wal-Mart's ( WMT - Get Report) chief administrative officer, Tom Mars, is steeping down after working for the giant retailer for more than a decade.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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