A New Look and a New CEO at J.C. Penney

Profit projections for its fiscal year (ends Jan. 30) might be down to $1.25 per share from an initial forecast of $2.10, but J.C.Penney‘s (NYSE:JCP) stock, currently around $35, is up 12% since new CEO Ron Johnson came aboard in November. However, there will be sufficient time to get in at a lower price, Barrons says, noting that turnarounds require a bit of time for shoppers to affirm or reject a store’s new look.

CEO Johnson’s recent marketing triumphs include innovations such as Glass Stores and Fashion Bars at Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) stores, and adding Michael Graves housewares at Target (NYSE:TGT). His plans for Penney will be revealed on February 1, and board members are hopeful for a promise of higher returns. Specific expectations for the new plan include a new pricing structure that will eliminate multiple sales stickers, the steamlining of merchandise lines in a way that attracts ‘younger savvy tech customers’, improving the visual appeal of the stores, and of course ideas that cut costs when implemented.

Johnson has also brought a former Apple colleague along: Michael Kramer, who was a top executive at Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) and will become the new chief operating officer. CEO Johnson will also take two board seats at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO), after buying a $38.5 billion share in that company.

For the present, Penney trades at 28 times earnings, which is more typical of post-overhaul companies. Time will tell if Johnson’s coming changes will justify such an indicator of expectation.