J.C. Penney CEO invests $1M in company stock


PLANO, Texas (AP) — J.C. Penney Co. Chief Executive Mike Ullman seems confident the slumping retailer will bounce back during the holiday shopping season.

Ullman showed his faith by buying 112,000 shares at $8.95 apiece at the end of last week. The $1 million investment disclosed Monday comes as Ullman tries to snap Penney out of a funk that has seen the Plano-based company lose more than $2.4 billion since late 2011.

The financial misery prompted Penny to fire Ron Johnson in April and bring back Ullman for a second stint as its CEO. Since his return, Ullman has been restoring more of the sales promotions that Johnson, a former executive at Target Inc. and Apple Inc., had eliminated.

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The strategy has yielded some modest progress so far. In October, Penney reported that its monthly sales at its stores open for at least year — a key measure of a retailer’s health — had risen by 0.9 percent, the first year-over-year increase since December 2011.

That still wasn’t enough to spare J.C. Penney from a loss of $489 million in its most recent quarter ending Nov. 2.

Penny’s woes have caused the company’s stock to plunge by 53 percent so far this year. The shares closed with a gain of almost 4 percent to $9.19 Monday, up from a 52-week low of $6.24 reached last month.

Things are so bad that the retailer is being booted from the S&P 500 index after the stock market closes Friday.

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