J.C. Penney's dismal second-quarter earnings contributed to further head shaking by investors in the stock, but is the department store chain really doomed? Retail and turnaround experts make the case for J.C. Penney's comeback.
"To summarize where the company is today, we know where the problems are," Ullman said. "We know how to address them, and we have the right plans in place to do the job successfully and get back on a path to return to profitable growth." Shares reacted positively on Tuesday, following the earnings release and call, rising 6% to close at $14.01. However, the stock is down 14% over the past month and fell an additional 4.9% on Wednesday to close at $13.33. The two-day rollercoaster of the stock is just another example of J.C. Penney's struggles both in its stores and in the boardroom. The company recently went through a very public battle with its largest shareholder, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, who sought to shake things up at the board and executive levels to get the company's turnaround moving faster. Ultimately, Ackman lost that battle and resigned his board seat. Ackman recently signed an agreement with the company to start selling his 18% stake in the retailer in the coming months. Conversely, the company's announcement Thursday of the shareholder rights plan was "not adopted in response to any effort to acquire control of the company." The plan will expire on August 20, 2014, unless the rights are redeemed or exchanged for shares of common stock by the company on an earlier date, a release said. Also see:J.C.Penney, Ackman Enter Agreement To Sell Stake Ackman selling his very large stake will make owning shares a rocky road in the near to mid-term, but with heavy hitters like George Soros and now Kyle Bass' Hayman Capital owning stakes in the company, is a bet for a turnaround really so out of the question? "The biggest problem for J.C. Penney was changing the business model so quickly," says Tom Shinick, an associate visiting professor of marketing for Adelphi and CEO of Corporate Development Partners. "You do not do that." Ullman is "going back to the business of finding out what the customers want and they're coming back into the store," Shinick says. "In the short term it's going to cost him some money, but in doing that -- and you don't see it in the second quarter -- but I really believe you are going to be seeing it in the next quarter and following quarter. People will be coming back." Experts say that J.C. Penney needs to focus on its core customer, but also find ways to attract newer, younger customers. "They have to really work on a positioning that resonates with that consumer and it's probably somewhere between where Ron Johnson wanted to go and where they were before," Appel says. "To be more relevant. To be more updated in their assortment so that consumers find a store an interesting place to shop and having a pricing matrix that the customer" appreciates.