2. Penney's Punch

Shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) got clocked Wednesday after the beleaguered retailer puzzled Wall Street analysts by claiming it was "pleased with its performance" during the holiday period, while offering no quantifiable evidence to substantiate its boast. Penney's stock had already gotten smacked this year for an 11% loss prior to Wednesday's 10% shellacking.

To which we say: Sorry for your knuckle-sandwich, but thank you J.C. Penney! As a result of your cold-cocking, we now know the phrase "pleased as punch" is derived from announcing one's pleasure and then taking a punch, as opposed to a reference to a pair of British hand puppets named Punch and Judy.

You see? Easy as pie! Or is it easy as Pi?

We'll look that up later. In the meantime, we'll continue to wonder why on earth J.C. Penney flummoxed analysts -- and frightened investors -- by reaffirming its fourth-quarter outlook from November instead of releasing its December sales figures. Back in November, if you remember, Penney's trumpeted that its same-store sales climbed a Street-beating 10% and it was optimistic heading into the holiday season.

So much for no news is good news.

With its market-cap now under $2.3 billion, Penney's clearly needs a strong holiday season if it intends to survive until next year. By denying the Street the information it craves, Penney's has its investors guessing that it's December same store sales fell into negative territory. As a result, Penney's shareholders are not sticking around for the company to offer additional information when it releases its fourth-quarter earnings report in early February.

Much unlike Penney's management, they clearly gained no pleasure at all from this sucker-punch.

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