The ability of an on-line retailer to differentiate is much less than a brick-and-mortar retailer. That means the on-line will always be only marginally profitable at best.
For the past year or so, JCP stock has been more volatile than is typical for a retailer. The retailing industry tends to move slowly, so the stocks do likewise. With an improved financial outlook, I expect JCP to enter a period of greater stock price stability, with the next peaks at Analysts Day in October, and the release of Q3 earnings.
The biggest upside for JCP, over the longer term, is derived from the crash and burn scenario at Sears. Lampert has embarked on the most wrong headed (since RJ) strategy possible. He's trying to free up Sears real estate for sale by transitioning to an Internet based business. A cardinal rule in business is to leverage your strengths, and minimize your weaknesses. Sears real estate has always be one of its few strengths, so to eliminate the major strength is really wrong. He's using the cash generated by real estate and other sales to enter probably the most competitive business possible; that is, internet sales. The only question I now have about Sears is whether it will end up in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or Chapter 7.
Sears has no plan to halt the downward decline. Suppliers must realize that they will eventually have to put Sears on COD rather than continue to provide credit. Once that process begins to unfold, it will quickly gather momentum and bring the company down.
Cash flow is the most important consideration for any company. As long as cash flow is positive, a company can remain in business indefinitely. When cash flow from operations is negative, cash has to be generated from asset sales and/or borrowing, which can't continue indefinitely. Sears is quickly approaching the end of its rope. EL keeps kidding himself by believing that he can achieve a better outcome if he continues to operate the retail business. Soon the decision will be in the hands of the creditors. The assets shown on the balance sheet will be worth much less in bankruptcy. Once legal fees are paid I doubt there will be anything left for common stockholders.
Sears has completely lost its way. I'm confident they will declare, but the date is unknown. If they don't sell either Sears Canada or the auto repair business, they will have inadequate liquidity to acquire merchandise for the holiday season. But anyone interested in either of those businesses has to ask themselves if they can do better by waiting, and making the purchase after bankruptcy is declared. The real question is whether it will be Chapter 11 or Chapter 7.
Sears is down for the count. If one removes false assets, such as good will, from the balance sheet, the company has a negative book. I don't think SHLD now has the cash to orchestrate an orderly shutdown without protection from creditors, leaving bankruptcy as the only option.
Specification sensitive products, such as equipment, appliances, and tools I always buy on line. Appearance or style products, especially apparel, I almost never buy on line.
Since 1982, the United States has created millions of jobs, which are, unfortunately, located in China. As a country we're heading for a disaster as more and more of our wealth is transferred to foreign countries. After the money leaves the United States, we borrow the same dollars back to maintain our standard of living. This, I promise you, will not end well.
I looked at the revenue history by quarter for JCP, KSS, M, and SHLD over the weekend. It appears that JCP is more closely linked with SHLD than with KSS or M. When you think about it, that makes abundant sense for a number of reasons. Now that SHLD is going down for the count, I expect that JCP will show terrific gains.
I think we all wish Mike a rapid and successful recovery. Considering he's been dealing with health problems, he's made a remarkable contribution to JCP.
You give me the impression that you're trying to convince yourself that what you're writing is correct. All this stuff about on-line research is just meaningless dribble?
It's apparently an important affair, not an every day event.
Although I don't often pay attention to Cramer, his article pointing out that JCP is not indispensable is quite true. However, the same could be said about Kohl's and Sears. Regardless, it's time for JCP to distinguish itself from other retailers, and analyst day is the right time to roll out new initiatives.
The matter is more complicated than you're thinking. First you must determine what "traffic" is? Is it the number of people passing through the door, or the number of transactions? And if transactions, are they including all or a portion of Internet transactions?
The overly simplistic view people had of the drop in revenue during RJ is the root of the problem. People simply thought that all people entering a JCP store purchased the same dollar value of merchandise. Therefore, when sales dropped, it must have been because fewer people came to JCP. No. In fact, a larger percentage of lost sales was probably the result of people continuing to enter a JCP but finding less of what they wanted to buy. So the drop in traffic as measured by the number of shoppers entering the store was far less on a percentage basis than the percentage drop in revenue. Decreased conversion, as determined by the value of the average transaction, was probably the source of a large part of the decline.
If I had all the shopper info that JCP has, I would probably be able to make a fairly accurate estimate of revenue going forward for at least two years. But as one can see from the conference call, JCP simply doesn't release the pertinent historical or current data.
The following is a very important comment made by Ed Record during the CC:
"I think as we move forward, when we get to the October Analyst Day, I think we're going to lay out some of the ways that we expect to continue this sales growth as we move forward. We know that we can't run in the flat to 2% comp range. We need to stay in the mid-single range as we move forward to get back to where we were, and we have plans to do that."
JCP is formulating new initiatives to be announced to analysts in October. Now that the company has stopped the worst of the bleeding caused by the RJ debacle, JCP can devote more of its time to growth strategies.
There were many things affecting the stock price on Friday; such as, selling to take profits after earnings, negative feelings toward retail in general, and concern about world events. These factors were then accentuated with computer trading, providing a result that is in no way indicative of the inherent value of JCP stock.
As a retailer which appeals to value oriented shoppers, JCP is actually positioned well going forward. As the USA entered 2009 and the depth of the fiscal crisis, Walmart stock jumped because it was considered to be one of the only beneficiaries of a slow economy. I don't expect such a financial disaster to materialize again soon, but a very competitive economy will drive people to stores at which they believe they can get more for their money, such as JCP.