Analysts at UBS on Thursday trimmed estimates for second-quarter sales at J.C. Penney Company Inc. (NYSE:JCP) and downgraded the big retailer's shares to sell on Thursday, hours after Citi offered similar advice to investors.
UBS projected same-store sales at the ailing department-store chain to fall 14 percent in the second quarter on the heels of a disputed report in the New York Post claiming that CIT, the largest lender in the U.S. apparel industry, refused to back small vendors selling to J.C. Penney.
“We estimate that JCP will burn another $910 million in cash by year-end (consuming most of the $2.25 billion May loan),” the analysts wrote in the memo.
Earlier on Thursday, Citi released a report downgrading J.C. Penney stock to sell and knocking the company’s target to $11 per share.
UBS took it a step further, reducing its valuation to a target of $10.
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Last month, Paul Rutenis, J.C. Penney’s senior vice president and general merchandise manager for the home division, left the company after only a year on the job as sales fell 30 percent in his struggling home-goods department.
“We believe the relaunch of the home section has gone much worse than planned,” the UBS analysts wrote. “We believe the company has struggled to sell chic new products to its more traditional customers -- leaving significant unsold inventory, and low (or even negative) gross margins on any product that is being sold.”
The company’s stock price tanked on Wednesday after the tabloid’s report was published. But shares were up 2.4 percent on Thursday afternoon, to $14.95, below valuations from both banks.
UBS praised the company’s new management, saying it was “doing the right things to steady the ship” by selling off stockpiles of poorly selected new products.
“We believe the company is scrambling to cancel orders and reduce its exposure to misaligned categories like chic hard home goods and trendy/contemporary fashion,” they wrote. “While we have a cautious near-term view, we think by the end of Q4 or Q1, JCP could largely be done with clearing inappropriate inventory and will be much better positioned to turn same-store sales and margins around.”