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JCPenney last in race with Macy's, Kohl's

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. PLANO, Texas and CINCINNATI – While Kohl’s and Macy’s posted September sales growth, JCPenney had to scale its outlook back after a weaker than expected month.

Kohl’s reported that sales for September increased 5.8% and comparable-store sales increased 4.1% over the same period last year. 

Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, commented, “We are pleased to report significant improvement in our September sales results. As expected, the Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony launches – the largest launches in our history – and the opening of 31 new stores, generated excitement which resulted in improved customer traffic.”

Kohl’s opened 31 new stores in fiscal September and now operates 1,127 stores in 49 states, compared to 1,089 stores at the same time last year.

Because of the expected impact of lease accounting through the remainder of fiscal 2011, Kohl’s has lowered it third quarter earnings guidance to a range of 73 cents to 79 cents per diluted share from its previous guidance of 76 cents to 82 cents per diluted share. Fiscal 2011 earnings are now expected to be $4.34 to $4.49 per diluted share versus the previous guidance of $4.45 to $4.60 per diluted share.

Macy's reported a September sales increase of 5.3% and a same-store sales increase of 4.9%.

"We continued to see a strong sales trend in September at both Macy's and Bloomingdale's. Our sales performed well both in stores and online. This underscores that our business remains on track, despite the persistently negative macroeconomic news," said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy's Inc. "Our customers are responding to fashion and uniqueness in the assortment at Macy's and Bloomingdale's. We are feeling quite confident that we will continue to gain market share as we head toward the holiday selling season."

Macy’s said it currently expects the increase in its third quarter same-store sales to be on the high end of previously provided guidance of 4% to 4.5%, and reiterated expectations for fourth quarter same-store sales to be in the range of 4% to 4.5%.

JCPenney reported that total sales for September were down 3.6% and comparable-store sales were down 0.6%. The company posted a 5.1% comps increase for the September 2010 period.

Sales were softer than the company expected, although JCPenney said that children’s apparel and women’s accessories performed well.

Because of weaker than expected sales in the first two months of the quarter, JCPenney said it now expects comparable-store sales for the third quarter to be flat and earnings per share to be in the range of 10 cents to 15 cents.