J.C. Penney surges as stocks slump. Huh?April 5, 2013: 1:10 PM ET
It makes sense. If the job market is going into another spring swoon, then consumers probably will spend less at the mall. So why on Earth were shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) up 4%?
J.C. Penney's problems are well-known at this point. The department store chain's sales have continued to fall despite an ambitious store-within-a-store strategy launched by CEO Ron Johnson. The former Apple (AAPL) retail guru has not been able to convince investors that his plan will work.
Earlier this week, JCP disclosed that it slashed the compensation packages of Johnson and other senior executives last year due to the poor performance. And things aren't expected to get better anytime soon. Analysts are forecasting that sales will keep dropping this year and that JCP will rack up even more losses.
So why was JCP up this much on a down day? It could just be a short squeeze. Short sellers own more than 40% of the available stock. But some traders on StockTwits expressed optimism that Johnson's strategy might finally be bearing fruit.
If Johnson can pull this off, a lot of skeptics (and shorts) will be eating crow. To be honest, Johnson's strategy makes sense. There is strong evidence that the sales per square foot should go up for all of JCP if the company can successfully revamp the entire chain. But execution is going to be key.
Other traders suggested that even though JCP is a hated stock -- shares are still down 20% this year -- there are some big institutional investors supporting it. In particular, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has continued to show support for Johnson. Ackman's Pershing Square is JCP's largest shareholder, with a nearly 18% stake.
One trader joked about how another retailer in the midst of a turnaround seems to be adopting Johnson's strategy too.
Ha! Johnson should be envious of Best Buy (BBY). It's been one of the best performing stocks this year and shares got a further lift Thursday on news of the Samsung partnership. Although leaving Apple no longer looks like that disastrous of a move.
Finally, one witty StockTwits user reminded investors that it's premature to say that the worst is over just yet.
Joe D. for the win! Although I wonder if JCP would do well in Greece. Or Cyprus for that matter.
— Sven Reigle (@FollowSven) April 2, 2013