J.C. Penney 'Pleased' With Holiday Sales, But Vague News Rattles Investors

J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) left investors scratching their heads Wednesday by saying it is "pleased" with its holiday sales performance but without revealing specific figures. The struggling retailer only said that it was making "continued progress in its turnaround efforts" and maintained its prior fourth-quarter outlook.

Upon receiving the news, the markets automatically assumed the worst and Penney shares sold off briskly Wednesday morning, dropping as much as 9.3 percent. After all, if the retailer had good news to share, wouldn't it release that instead of a vague press release?

The entire J.C. Penney statement reads as follows:

"J.C. Penney reported today that the company is pleased with its performance for the holiday period, showing continued progress in its turnaround efforts. Customers responded well to the company's offerings this holiday shopping season, both in store and online.

"J.C. Penney also reaffirmed its outlook for the fourth quarter of 2013, as previously set out in the company's third quarter earnings release dated Nov. 20, 2013."

And that's it.

The update comes after J.C. Penney gave a much more detailed sales report for November and October, another fact that makes today's statement a bit puzzling. J.C. Penney said in November that same-store sales climbed 10 percent, driven by a successful Thanksgiving weekend, aggressive promotions and the introduction of in-house brands that attracted shoppers at the start of the holiday shopping season. The November sales growth followed a 0.9 percent rise in October, the first same-store increase since December 2011.

J.C. Penney shares sank 7.6 percent to $7.57 as of noon Wednesday.

For more see:
-This J.C. Penney press release
-This Reuters article

Related stories:
J.C. Penney Comp-Store Sales Rise 10% in November
J.C. Penney's Q3 Loss Wider Than Expected As Sales Fall
J.C. Penney Reports First Monthly Sales Increase Since 2011
J.C. Penney's Calls it Quits With Martha Stewart
J.C. Penney Launches Disney Shops in 565 Stores