JC Penney News: J.C. Penney expects sales, gross profit to improve this year

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[Reuters] – Penney said it expects comparable sales to be up by a "mid-single digit" percentage for this fiscal year. Penney Chief Executive Mike Ullman, who returned to the helm in April after sales went into free fall due to a failed attempt to go up-market in 2012, said the company’s turnaround "remains on course." Penney’s gross margin, a gauge of merchandise profit, rose 4.6 percentage point to 28.4 percent of sales, below analyst projections for 30.5 percent of sales, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, because of higher than anticipated markdowns on clearance merchandise. But the company said it expects gross margin, which historically has been around 39 percent of sales, will improve "significantly" this year.

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