Department store operator J.C. Penney Co Inc reported a lower quarterly profit on Friday but raised its forecast for the full year to a level that could top Wall Street expectations, sending shares up nearly 4 percent.

Penney's net profit fell to $27 million, or 11 cents a share, for the third quarter ended October 31, from $124 million, or 55 cents a share, a year earlier.

Penney reported sales fell 3.2 percent to $4.18 billion in the third quarter. Same-store sales fell 4.6 percent during the quarter.

Analysts, on average, had been expecting a profit of 11 cents per share and sales of $4.18 billion for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Plano, Texas-based chain raised its outlook for full-year profit to between 93 cents per share and $1.08 per share, compared to analysts average view of $1.05.

Penney projected that earnings per share in the last quarter, which includes the holiday season, will range between 70 cents and 85 cents.

The chain opened three new stores during the quarter.

Penney shares rose to $30.50 premarket from a Thursday close of $29.39.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)