J.C. Penney surprised analysts by announcing a 6.2 percent rise in first-quarter comps—with fine jewelry singled out as one of its best categories.
The rising sales didn’t necessarily help the company’s balance sheet: Losses for the quarter totaled $352 million, a wider loss than last year’s $289 million. Operating income for the quarter was a $247 million loss, a 49.2 percent improvement over last year.
Penney expects its comps to continue to rise in the low- to mid-single digits throughout the year.
“We are very pleased to report that JCPenney delivered its second consecutive quarter of comparable-store sales growth, as well as continued gross-margin improvement,” said CEO Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, in a statement. “It is clear that our efforts to re-merchandise many areas of the store and revamp our messaging to the customer are taking hold. Despite a difficult retail environment, our strong performance during the Easter holiday period and other key promotional events enabled us to deliver better than anticipated sales results.”