Market Minute: Another Turnaround for JCPenney; Microsoft to Drop XP

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Ron Johnson, chief executive officer of J.C. Penney Co., testifies at State Supreme court in New York, U.S., on Friday, March 1, 2013. Johnson took the witness stand to testify in a dispute between his department-store chain and Macy?s Inc. over the right to sell Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. merchandise. Photographer: Thomas Iannaccone/Pool via Bloomberg
Thomas Iannaccone/Pool via Bloomberg
J.C. Penney does an about-face, and Microsoft sets a deadline for millions of Windows users.

The Dow Industrials rose 48 points yesterday, the S&P 500 added 9 and the Nasdaq gained 18. The market has been on a see-saw ride recently. The S&P has not had back-to-back gains or losses for the past 13 sessions, the longest such streak on record.

J.C. Penney's (JCP) controversial CEO Ron Johnson has been ousted after less than two years on the job. The company's revenue fell sharply last year after he eliminated sale prices and coupons, only to backtrack later on. Myron Ullman, the former CEO, will return as Johnson's replacement. Investors are concerned the flip-flop could lead to another expensive makeover. Penney shares lost half their value during Johnson's tenure.

If you own a computer running on Windows XP system, Microsoft (MSFT) will in effect disown you a year from now. The company says it will stop supporting XP, meaning it will not provide security patches or system updates.

Alcoa (AA) kicked off the earnings season last night with a better-than-expected increase in quarterly profit. But revenue for the industrial bellwether was a bit shy of estimates. The company also said China's production cutbacks are reducing the worldwide oversupply of aluminum.

Google (GOOG) has been giving away its Android system to mobile phone makers, in exchange for prominent placement of the company's apps on Google Maps, YouTube and others. Now a group of rivals – including Microsoft, Oracle (ORCL) and Nokia (NOK) – are asking European regulators to charge Google with antitrust violations.

Ford (F) says its Focus brand was the top-selling passenger car in the world last year. It sold more than 1 million of the cars in 2012 – a quarter of them in China.

And Citigroup (C) may file suit against the Nasdaq. According to the Wall Street Journal, the bank wants to recoup losses suffered in the botched launch of Facebook (FB) stock last May.

–Produced by Drew Trachtenberg

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The 10 Oddball Quotes From JC Penney's Fired CEO
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Market Minute: Another Turnaround for JCPenney; Microsoft to Drop XP

"The first and most encouraging thing to me is I am completely convinced that our transformation is on track. We are making extraordinary progress in everything we're doing."

"In haircuts, it's pretty incredible. Today we will cut on our tenth day of this effort to help Americans look better, help the kids look better. We'll do our 500,000th haircut, free haircut. And today customers will book their millionth appointment during the month of August to get a haircut.

"We're reducing the money on television. We'll still run television and we're investing heavily in the traditional traffic driving median, so be in the newspaper and we think that's going to be good."

"We're going to go paperless. ... Imagine a retail store without any paper except the signs, because everything will be done digitally through iPods and iPads and those are our priorities and those are all priorities within the next 12 to 18 months."

"Well, for the first 10 days with our new marketing, our traffic is down 7% to last year, which is a dramatic improvement."

"We're inspired by Selfridges. Selfridges is the leading department store in the world. You ask any retailer what's the number one department store? They will all say Selfridges."

"It's a place to refresh and we're going to have coffee bars and juice bars and place to get food, that's 25-square feet of space, but by putting out a few tables that have no cost, where we used to have cash wraps, no one has to leave the store if they want to refresh, they can grab a cup of coffee while someone shops and continue to stay in the store and continue to shop."

"We've rolled out Wi-Fi, but we really don't have a lot of use for it."

"What happens in a big mall of a 1 million square feet, about 600,000 square feet goes to the anchors and the common area which leaves about 400,000 square feet for the stores and the stores average 3,000 to 4,000 square feet. So, you run the math, you have about 100 to 120 stores in a typical mall we're in. We'll have just as many shops with inside JCPenney and that's what we call it a specialty department store. It's like a mall within a mall.

"Yeah, we're very anxious to communicate our pricing to our customer and we have failed at that, right? They were confused. Now, we have a pricing strategy that they understand. We have done focused groups around the country over the last 30 days with our new pricing strategy and they all say, we get it, whereas before, they were confused."

"At Apple our stores were busy when we only had Macs. Then we added the iPod; they got busier. We added the iPhone; they got busier yet. We added the iPad, and they got busier. The same thing will happen here. Next spring it's Joe Fresh, Martha Stewart, all our new partners. It will be just like Apple: boom, boom, boom."

As analyst Bill Dreher of Newedge USA told Johnson on the call, "I want to applaud you for creating one of the most exciting stories in retail write-down."

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