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JCPenney (JCP): Analyze This

Would you buy a stock from this guy?

In light of the incredible falling price of JCPenney (JCP) stock, you might want to slap one of the stock “analysts” who set a target price for JCP of over $40.00. Then, slap the analyst again, for giving the stock a buy or hold rating. The fact is  many of these analysts are merely working the makeup counter for PigsRUs.

Buy side analysts often have some sort of vested interest in the stock. A buy side analyst working for a mutual fund or investment management company typically owns the stock he or she is covering.

(Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/stocks/10/stock-analysts.asp#ixzz1qaIAwY6p)

To me, it seems a bit like a potential sucker (er, customer) walking into a used car dealer and asking the liar (er, car salesman) anything about a car. Of course every car was driven by a little old lady, who only went to the grocery store once a week to buy Alpo for her and her dog. She polished the car every day with a cloth diaper and had all the recommended maintenance done on schedule. Or was the car owned by a hot-rodding teenager who liked to burn rubber and had no idea that you had to change the oil?

Anyhow, it doesn’t take the razor-sharp skills of a buy side analyst to look at JCP. Just go to your local JCPenney. Is there anything exciting about the experience without a giant discount off the price of the merchandise? Do you wake up Saturday morning and the first thought that goes through your mind is, “Yippee, I’m going to JCPenney”?.

Does anyone really think you can re-imagine JCPenney any more than you can visualize world peace?

You might think iPhones have little to do with selling housewares. But to hear Johnson tell it, it’s all about the mind-set and how a company approaches its customers. In a conference call, there were plenty of distinctively Apple-esque phrases used — “re-imagine,” “think differently” and “work creatively” to name a few.

The idea that Apple and JCPenney have anything to do with each other is absurd. Short of a going out of business sale, what is JCP going to do that is going to get a crowd of people wrapped around the block before the doors open. “Man, I can’t wait. JCP just got the latest shipment of Dockers!”

Steven P Dennis offers up some of the best analysis and criticism of JCPenney’s new strategy.

In Part 1 Dennis takes apart the pricing strategy:

First of all, unlike Nordstrom, every promotional retailer like Penney’s (and Sears and Macy’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond, etc.) has taught their customers–over many, many years–that their “regular” price is a sucker price. Reversing this perception will not happen quickly, no matter how creative your new ad campaign is and no matter how much money you throw at it in the first few months.

In Part 2 Dennis takes apart the re-invention of JCPenney:

While I have no doubt that Penney’s can benefit from many of the leadership lessons and certain tactical aspects of Apple’s retail strategy, Penney’s ain’t Apple. It’s a lot easier to build retail stores around products that are in high demand, have limited distribution and “fixed” high margins. Apple is a single brand specialty store with a clear tribe of loyalists, not a multi-brand, multi-category store serving an incredibly diverse set of customers.  Apple is vertically integrated and the stores benefit directly from total brand advertising–and a ton of buzz. All of Apple’s stores are in “A” real estate locations and have a tight prototype and are not unit intensive. The list goes on and on.

In Part 3 Dennis looks at the slick marketing versus the sad reality of JCPenney stores:

In the short-term, the work of marketing is to get the target customers’ butts in the store (or drive them to the website). I suspect the new campaign IS elevating interest in JCP and starting to drive incremental traffic. Yet while Penney’s has improved their presentation markedly, the stark reality is that both the product assortments and overall experience are still pretty much the same–i.e. unremarkable in most instances. And unlike Apple and Target, Penney’s store fleet is a grab bag of some very good locations with a whole bunch of mediocre and lousy ones.

We all know that when the invitation is better than the party, we aren’t very likely to get fooled the next time around.

It’s not likely that once customers get pushed to the local JCPenney by the latest Ellen Degeneres ad, that they will be dancing in the aisles.


The latest JCP charts aren’t anything to get excited about either.

JCP Chart 3-29-12

Hey JCP, $40 is the other way!

JCP stock price still is below the sell trigger line and also within a downward-trending price channel. I don’t care what Herb Tarlek the buy side analyst says, the price of JCP will go down until it manages to break out of the current chart pattern.

JCP stock price still falling

JCP: No dancing in the aisles here

So, despite what Herb Tarlek buy side analyst might say, and despite the star power of Ellen Degeneres, the JCP stock price is going down. How long the downward trend continues remains to be seen, but the charts are clear. You don’t need to be a stock analyst or an expert on retailing to see that it won’t be easy for JCP to hit the $40.00 target analysts are expecting. Just go down to your local JCPenney and compare the vibe to an Apple Store or even the local Target. Trust your gut. Use your common sense. That’s something Herb the buy side analyst will likely never do.

Disclaimer: The above is for informational purposes only. This should not be considered investment advice. Any investment decisions are your own and should be made after conducting your own independent research and / or in consultation with a professional investment advisor. 


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