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Rebound for real at JCP

Same store sales growth of 6% and e-commerce strength helped J.C. Penney dramatically reduce its second quarter operating loss and demonstrate growing momentum of its turnaround.

Sales at the operator of 1,060 stores increased to $2.8 billion from $2.66 billion and the 6% comp increase the company reported was against an easy prior year comparison when comps declined 11.5%. Online sales through jcp.com were $249 million for the quarter, up 16.7 % versus the same period last year.

The company reported an operating loss of $70 million that, while sizable, was dramatically less than a prior year loss of $395 million. The company’s net loss of $172 million, or 56 cents a share, was also markedly better than the prior year loss of $586 million, or $2.66 a share.

"Our turnaround initiatives continue to produce improved financial results. In the second quarter, we gained additional market share while significantly increasing gross margin in a highly competitive promotional environment,” said J.C. Penney CEO Mike Ullman. “Our customers know they can count on J.C. Penney to deliver relevant stylish merchandise at a price that fits their budget. With our unique assortment of powerful private brands, key national brands and exclusive attractions — all at prices customers can afford — we expect to continue driving profitable sales this back to school season. As we approach the completion of our turnaround, we are focused on re-establishing J.C. Penney as the premier shopping destination for the moderate consumer."

The company singled our women's and men's apparel and accessories, home and fine jewelry as its top performing businesses during the quarter. Sephora inside J.C. Penney also continued its strong performance, according to the company.

Looking ahead, J.C. Penney said it expects third quarter comps to grow in the mid single digit range.