Soros Takes JCPenney Stake to Lead Retail Higher

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - JCPenney ( JCP) shares were surging after the market closed Thursday after the legendary investor George Soros revealed that he had taken an 8% stake in the struggling retailer.

JCP was surging 7.1% to $16.33 in after-hours markets.

Soros Fund Management disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission 13G filing, dated April 15, that it bought 17.4 million shares, or a 7.9% stake in the retailer's stock.

The move comes amid the drama that's unfolded at the struggling retailer. Earlier this month, the Plano, Texas-based company announced it was replacing CEO Ron Johnson and bringing back Myron "Mike" Ullman to rejoin the company. The move, announced April 8, was immediately effective. Ullman had served as CEO of JCP until late 2011.

JCP's stock was suffering over criticism that Johnson's strategic move away from coupons and deals and focus on store design was in opposition to what the customer wanted. It's clear that consumers like their deals and coupons.

Soros' investment represents a big bet on JC Penney's turnaround. The retailer wasn't on Soros' SEC 13-F filing in February, which disclosed the fund's holdings as of Dec. 31, 2012.

Soros joins Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management has a nearly 18% stake in the retailer, according to TheDeal, TheStreet's sister publication.

In other news, Starbucks ( SBUX) said net income rose 26% in the second quarter to $390.4 million compared to the year-earlier quarter.

The company reported second-quarter earnings per share of 51 cents, which included a 3-cent "non-routine gain on the sale of the company's equity in the joint venture that operates Starbucks stores in Mexico." Analysts were expecting the company to post earnings of 48 cents per share.

Starbucks said total net revenue rose 11% in the quarter to $3.55 billion, just shy of analysts' estimates of $3.59 billion. The company raised its full-year earnings per share target range to $2.12-$2.18 from the previous target range of $2.06-$2.15.

Starbucks shares closed up 1.1% to $60.50. Shares were down 2.5% to $59 in after-hours trading.

Retail stocks were also rising Thursday following expectations for a strong first-quarter GDP report to be released on Friday.

Michael Kors ( KORS), Sears ( SHLD) and Zumiez ( ZUMZ) were among the biggest winners of the day.

Shares of Michael Kors rose 5.8% to $56.63 on Thursday. Teen retailer Zumiez rose 4.4% to $28.93 while Sears rose 4.5% to $50.52. One of the lone losers of the day: Lululemon ( LULU). The stock fell 0.9% to $75.10.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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