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Ahead of the Bell: J.C. Penney down after

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of J.C. Penney & Co. slipped in Thursday morning trading, a day after the struggling department store chain told investors at a presentation that it expects the second half of the year to mirror the disastrous results of the first half.

The company has confused consumers by changing its pricing strategy this year, abandoning coupons and frequent sales in favor of everyday low pricing. Then in July, Penney announced it was bringing back some sales and tweaking advertising.

The following month, J.C. Penney posted a second-quarter loss of $147 million, reversing a year-earlier profit, as revenue slid 23 percent. Meanwhile, revenue at stores open at least a year — a key measure of a retailer's health, plunged 21.7 percent, worse than the 18.9 percent drop the quarter before. Customer counts fell 12 percent.

Shares of the retailer are down 17 percent in the year to date, and the stock lost 74 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $28.35 in premarket trading. Thursday

Still, Citi Investment Research analyst Deborah Weinswig was impressed with the presentation, which showcased a new store prototype in a Dallas mall close to the company's Plano, Texas, headquarters. Featuring mini-boutiques of name brands such as Disney and Levi's flanking wide aisles, the redesign also will feature coffee and gelato bars, encouraging shoppers to linger.

"We believe that the new JCP will offer a shopping experience unlike any other in apparel retailing, and we reiterate our 'Buy' rating," Weinswig wrote.

In particular, the analyst called the technology within the stores "dazzling," such as self-serve and mobile check-outs.

Nomura analyst Paul Lejuez also was impressed with the prototype, but remained concerned about the rollout of the concept to the chain's 700 stores, as well as the timing of a sales turnaround and potential risks implementing the new technology. He backed his "Neutral" rating on the stock.