J.C. Penney Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of retailer J.C. Penney (NYS: JCP) were looking surprisingly fashionable to investors today as they gained as much as 19% in intraday trading after some big announcements from the company.

So what: What's really driving the stock's spike today? That's easy -- it's the company's announcement that management expects 2012 adjusted earnings per share to come in at or above $2.16, which is well ahead of what Wall Street analysts were expecting.

But the news out of J.C. Penney over the last couple of days really goes well beyond 2012's expected financials and could have big implications for the longer-term future of the retailer. The company, under new management, is shaking up the way it does business, reducing the number of sales that it holds throughout the year while introducing a new pricing strategy that relies less on deep discounts. The new management -- specifically CEO Ron Johnson and President Michael Francis -- is coming off previous successes at Target and the retail side of Apple, so investors' hopes are high that the new strategy will pay off.

Now what: Next up is for investors to sit tight and see whether the new strategy will work out for J.C. Penney. In a lot of ways, the approach makes sense, but we're in an extremely difficult retail environment that will make it more challenging than usual to successfully pull off a strategic turnaround. That said, as noted above, the new management team has some impressive successes on their resumes, so it looks like a team that has what it takes to pull this off.

Want to keep up to date on J.C. Penney?Add it to your watchlist.

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