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JCPenney 4Q comps beat company guidance

PLANO, Texas  -- JCPenney reported income from continuing operations of $1.09 per share for the quarter ended Jan. 29. Comparable-store sales for the quarter grew 4.5%.

Myron Ullman, III, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Our performance in 2010 reflects the strides we have made to deliver on our operating goals and position JCPenney as a retail industry leader. This was particularly evident in the fourth quarter when the actions we took during the year -- including new growth initiatives and improvements across our merchandise assortments, redefining the jcp.com experience and driving efficiencies across our company -- enabled us to achieve sales, market share and profitability growth that surpassed our expectations, and to establish a share buyback plan which will return value to our shareholders."

Comparable-store sales in the fourth quarter increased 4.5% over last year, ahead of the company's guidance for sales to increase 3% to 4%. Total sales for the quarter increased 2.8%, and continued to be impacted by the company's exit of its catalog business, JCPenney reported. Internet sales through jcp.com were $495 million in the fourth quarter, increasing 6.7% over last year. Geographically, the best performance was in the Southeast region of the country. Overall, the strongest merchandise results were in men's apparel, women's accessories and Sephora inside JCPenney. 

For the full year 2010, comparable-store sales increased 2.5%, in-line with the company's expectations for comparable-store sales to increase low single digits for the year. Total sales increased 1.2% for the year. 

The company said it expects comparable-store sales growth in 2011 to be in the low- to mid- single digit range. Total sales are expected to grow in the low-single digit range in 2011. The company noted that its total sales are expected to grow at a slower rate due to the discontinuation of its catalog business and the company's transition out of its outlet store business over the next two years.

For the full year, earnings per share are expected to be in the range of $2 to $2.10 per share.