Penney quarterly same-store sales fall 1.8 percent

PLANO, Texas – J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said on Friday that sales at its stores open at least a year fell 1.8 percent over the holiday quarter, contributing to a sharp drop in its gross profit margin.

In the fourth quarter ended on Jan. 28, Penney had a net loss of $87 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with a profit of $271 million, or $1.13 per share, a year earlier.

Gross margin fell 7.4 percentage points to 30.2 percent, hurt by weak sales that prompted the department store chain to cut prices.

Penney reiterated its forecast of an adjusted profit of $2.16 per share this fiscal year.