J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE:JCP) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “strong-buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Monday.

According to Zacks, “J. C. Penney has taken up several strategic initiatives to drive traffic. The company, in order to enhance customer shopping experience, has been focusing on remodeling, renovating and refurbishing its stores with special focus on enhancing high-margin center core department. The company’s strong in-store and online businesses, and solid performance across most merchandising divisions, with Sephora being one of the top performers, helped delivered upbeat performance in second-quarter fiscal 2016. These factors, along with the company’s constant efforts to drive omnichannel operations, make it confident of boosting sales and EBITDA in the remainder of fiscal 2016. On the flip side, the company’s high-debt level and competition from other department stores remain concerns. Nonetheless, management is concentrating on lowering the debt level and expects to reduce its net debt to EBITDA ratio to less than three times by fiscal 2017.”

Several other analysts have also issued reports on the stock. Guggenheim started coverage on shares of J.C. Penney in a research report on Friday, September 30th. They set a “neutral” rating for the company. Vetr lowered shares of J.C. Penney from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $10.02 target price for the company. in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Robert W. Baird reaffirmed an “outperform” rating on shares of J.C. Penney in a report on Tuesday, June 28th. TheStreet raised shares of J.C. Penney from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, August 12th. Finally, B. Riley reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $15.00 price target on shares of J.C. Penney in a report on Monday, June 27th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have given a hold rating, eleven have assigned a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $11.44.

Analyst Recommendations for J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP)

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Shares of J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) traded down 0.23% during trading on Monday, hitting $8.65. 5,882,892 shares of the stock were exchanged. J.C. Penney has a 52-week low of $6.00 and a 52-week high of $11.99. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $9.51 and a 200-day moving average of $9.19. The stock’s market cap is $2.66 billion.

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) last announced its earnings results on Friday, August 12th. The department store operator reported ($0.05) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of ($0.15) by $0.10. The company earned $2.92 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.93 billion. J.C. Penney had a negative net margin of 3.11% and a negative return on equity of 10.18%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 1.5% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted ($0.41) earnings per share. Equities research analysts anticipate that J.C. Penney will post $0.16 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other J.C. Penney news, Chairman Marvin R. Ellison acquired 50,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 25th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $9.92 per share, with a total value of $496,000.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the chairman now directly owns 2,557,317 shares in the company, valued at $25,368,584.64. The acquisition was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. 1.28% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Invictus RG acquired a new stake in J.C. Penney during the first quarter worth $103,000. Parametrica Management Ltd acquired a new stake in J.C. Penney during the second quarter worth $102,000. Advisors Asset Management Inc. raised its stake in J.C. Penney by 40.8% in the second quarter. Advisors Asset Management Inc. now owns 11,546 shares of the department store operator’s stock worth $103,000 after buying an additional 3,346 shares during the period. Private Advisor Group LLC acquired a new stake in J.C. Penney during the second quarter worth $115,000. Finally, Gofen & Glossberg LLC IL acquired a new stake in J.C. Penney during the third quarter worth $129,000. 88.53% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About J.C. Penney

J. C. Penney Company, Inc is a holding company. The Company’s operating subsidiary is J. C. Penney Corporation, Inc (JCP). The Company’s business consists of selling merchandise and services to consumers through its department stores and its Website at jcpenney.com, which utilizes optimized applications for desktop, mobile and tablet devices.

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