How Long Can JCPenney Last? How About Another Century?

As precarious as JCPenney's (NYSE:JCP) situation looks today, there was a time not that long ago when people thought it would last another 100 years. Back in 1997, with the retailer coming off record holiday-season sales, JCPenney sold $500 million in "century bonds" that would come due in 2097. Of course, Ford and Chrysler also sold those very long bonds, but so did IBM, Disney and Coca-Cola. All have suffered in the years since—even IBM's century bonds are down 18 percent—but Penney's have dropped 33 percent, and bond specialists have had them on their "avoid" lists for years, even though they're at least sort of backed by the chain's real estate. Said one, "In the era of (NASDAQ:AMZN) and other online retailing, I don't think much of legacy real estate assets of the big-box stores." Story