Morning Buzzers: JC Penney Down 12%, Deere Fades, Target Up

Shares of JC Penney Co. (NYSE:JCP) dropped over 12 percent at the opening bell. Late Tuesday, the retailer reported a loss of $163 million (75 cents per share) in the first-quarter, compared to a net income of $64 million (28 cents per share) a year earlier. Revenues also declined 20.1 percent to $3.15 billion from a year earlier. “Sales and profitability have been tougher than anticipated during the first 13 weeks, but the transformation is ahead of schedule. Customers love the new JCP they discover in our stores. Our shop strategy has been applauded by vendor and design partners, our merchants have stepped up to the challenge of improving our merchandise and presentation, we have dramatically simplified our business model and reorganized our teams at headquarters and in our stores,” explained Ron Johnson, chief executive officer.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) popped 3.7 percent higher before the opening bell. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRKA) disclosed in its latest 13-F filing that it purchased 10 million shares of the auto maker in the first-quarter. Berkshire (NYSE:BRKB) also disclosed a new position in Viacom Inc. (NYSE:VIA).

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Deere & Co. (NYSE:DE) shares increased 1 percent Wednesday morning. The company reported second-quarter earnings of $1.06 billion ($2.61 per share), compared to $904.3 million ($2.12 per share) a year earlier. “John Deere is well on its way to a year of outstanding performance after reporting an eighth consecutive quarter of record earnings,” said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer.

Target Corp. (NYSE:TGT) shares gained 2 percent in early trading. America’s second largest retailer reported first-quarter net income of $697 million ($1.04 per share), compared to $689 million (99 cents per share) a year earlier. Revenues also increased almost 6 percent to $16.87 billion. “We’re very pleased with our first quarter earnings, which benefited from better-than-expected sales,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Target Corporation. “While our outlook for the remainder of 2012 reflects continued economic uncertainty, we are confident in our strategy, keenly focused on delivering an affordable and inspirational merchandise assortment to our guests and committed to making thoughtful investments in our U.S. and Canadian business segments that we expect will reward our shareholders over time.”

Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF) fell 12 percent in morning trading. The specialty retailer reported that net income in the first-quarter dropped 88.1 percent to $3 million (3 cents per share), compared to $25.1 million (28 cents per share) a year earlier. Mike Jeffries, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., said:”While we are disappointed that European sales trends remain challenging in a very difficult macroeconomic environment, we are largely satisfied with our overall performance for the quarter in that context.”

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