J.C. Penney Pops as Investors Bet on Home Launch Success

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- J.C. Penney ( JCP) was the biggest gainer on the S&P 500 Friday, bucking the negative intraday trend of the broader market.

The stock was jumping 5.04% to $15.84 even as the S&P 500 was heading for its biggest weekly drop of the year after a weak March nonfarm payrolls report. Shares are now up almost 7% for the month.

It was only Thursday when the stock had fallen to a 52-week low of $14.10.

Money flowed into shares of the beleaguered department store chain as investors bet that the company's new home goods launches starting Friday will offer better merchandises than its previous home offerings in the last several years and draw in much-needed traffic.

Over the last seven years, J.C. Penney's home department has been the worst performing of all of its departments. The new home launch plan is the latest move by CEO Ron Johnson to boost sales at the struggling department store chain.

Johnson described the home launch as "pivotal." In March, J.C. Penney launched mini-shops by popular fashion brands such as Joe Fresh in more than 650 of its stores in hopes of revitalizing customer traffic.

J.C. Penney debuts the first of its new home goods sections on Friday in 500 of its 1,100 stores. The initial launches will continue into early next week. The company is expected to have introduced its new home goods sections everywhere in the U.S. by the end of May.

The home goods sections feature 20 boutiques that highlight 50 new brands.

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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