Penney’s third-quarter profit jumps 57 percent

J.C. Penney Co. Inc., on Tuesday reported a 57 percent increase in profit for its third-quarter, which the retailer credited to an improved operating performance and lower interest expense.

The Plano, Texas-based company reported net income of $234 million for the three months ended Oct. 29 from a year-ago profit of $149 million. Sales edged up 2 percent to $4.48 billion, from $4.39 billion last year.

The company said sales in stores open at least one year is expected to rise in the low single-digit range at both department stores and its direct selling business, which includes catalog and online sales.

The retailer also said it has nearly completed its common stock buyback program, having bought back 23.8 million of its own shares during the quarter. It said it spent about $2.2 billion to buy back roughly 44 million of its own shares this fiscal year.