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J.C. Penney reports hefty 3Q loss

Published: Fri, November 9, 2012 @ 1:50 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — The bad news just keeps piling on at J.C. Penney Co.

The chain today reported a third-quarter loss that's much wider than Wall Street expected on revenue that plunged 26 percent in the latest sign that customers aren't happy that the department-store chain ditched hundreds of coupons and big sales it offered each year in favor of everyday low pricing.

It's the third consecutive quarter of losses and steep sales declines that Penney has reported since the change.

The results underscore the challenges Penney's CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple Inc. executive who came on board a year ago, faces as he attempts to change the way people shop.

Under Johnson, Penney has been changing everything from its merchandise to its stores. But the centerpiece of his strategy has been to tweak pricing, with the goal of weaning deal-addicted customers off the kind of heavy discounting that eats away at a retailer's profits.

But customers have not embraced Penney's pricing plan, which it rolled out on Feb. 1. To be sure, during the third quarter, revenue at stores opened at least a year — a key measure in the retail industry because it excludes the impact from stores opened and closed during the year — plummeted 26.1 percent. That's higher than the 17.6-percent drop analysts had been expecting.

"I expected horrific but this was worse than expected," said Brian Sozzi, a chief equities analyst for research firm NBG Productions.

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