J.C. Penney Rises as Citigroup Analyst Upgrades to Buy

J.C. Penney Co., the retailer that’s posted three straight annual losses, rose 3 percent after a Citigroup Inc. analyst recommended buying the shares because of its nascent turnaround.

The stock gained to $8.67 at the close in New York. Shares of Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney have declined 5.2 percent this year, compared with a 1 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

The department-store chain’s 2 percent gain in fourth-quarter comparable-store sales “bodes well” for continued sales momentum, Citigroup’s Oliver Chen said today in a note raising his rating to buy. If J.C. Penney can meet first-quarter and full-year forecasts, that would reduce concerns that the company doesn’t have sufficient liquidity and would drive the stock higher, he said.

J.C. Penney “is early in this go-forward phase but we like the risk/reward given our conviction that just making basic changes will support guidance for growth in 2014,”the New York-based analyst said in the note.