Last year, the 112-year old retailer J.C. Penney was regularly in the news – and it was rarely good. The stock was in a free-fall, in the process of dropping from about $20 per share in May 2013 to a low of a little more than $6 dollars per share in late October. Media reports were grim, focusing on the attempt and failure of the former Apple executive Ron Johnson to turn the business around. But now, as we approach the critical holiday season, J.C. Penney’s stock has quietly reached more than $11 per share, with a market capitalization of $3.4 billion on $12.16 billion in revenue for the trailing twelve-month period. While a far cry from J.C. Penney’s all-time high of more than $80 per share in March 2007, the company at least seams to have bought itself some time.
Instead of J.C. Penney, this year it may be Sears Holding Corp., the owner and operator of the 120-year old Sears — as well as the 115-year old S.S. Kresge Corporation, renamed Kmart 50 years ago — that faces intense media and vendor scrutiny as we head towards the holidays. Sears’ stock is down almost 50% in the last year, with a market cap of $3.2 billion on trailing twelve-month revenue of just under $35 billion.