FINANCE

J.C. Penney Profit Up

BY CSA STAFF

J.C. Penney Co. said Thursday that its second-quarter profit edged up nearly 2% beating Wall Street expectations, though it said customers are worried about high energy prices and the weak housing market.

Sales increased nearly 4% to $4.39 billion from $4.24 billion a year ago, but it fell short of analysts’ forecast of $4.42 billion.

Company officials said the back-to-school season was off to a good start, and that sales were strong for women’s apparel, including Penney’s private-label lingerie brand Ambrielle and Liz & Co. and Concepts by Claiborne.

Chairman and chief executive Mike Ullman said customers were worried about high energy prices and the housing slowdown, and he expected the economy to remain unchanged in the second half of the year.

But Ullman said sales of most items other than home furnishings were solid. He said the chain could withstand economic slowdowns and continue to open 50 new stores a year.

“Our customers have jobs. Our customers have lots of things they want and need, and we’re seeing a good response,” Ullman said. He said the company saw no indications of delinquencies or bad debt on customers’ store credit card accounts.

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Cell phone sales healthy despite slow quarter

BY CSA STAFF

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. According to The NPD Group, mobile phone sales to consumers in the U.S. reached 33 million units in the second quarter of 2007. This number represents a decline of nearly 17% compared to unit sales during the previous quarter; however, the second quarter is traditionally a slow sales quarter for mobile phone retailers. NPD estimates total second quarter 2007 consumer sales of $2.4 billion, which is a 14% increase since the same period a year ago.

“Despite seasonal slowness, the industry showed healthy year-over-year unit and revenue increases,” said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for NPD. “Consumers are seeing value in moving to handsets that offer data-driving capabilities. It’s not unusual to note a decline in mobile phones purchased, since it has traditionally been a lackluster quarter for consumer mobile phone sales.”

Carrier stores continue to dominate handset sales with 62% of sales, followed by mass merchandisers and department stores at 9% and electronics specialty stores at 5%. Among phones purchased by consumers in the U.S. in the second quarter, 28% were free due to special rebates and promotions, while another 28% cost less than $50. Just 11% of phones purchased in the second quarter cost more than $150 and 4% cost more than $250.

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Jo-Ann Stores now fully owns Joann.com

BY CSA STAFF

HUDSON, Ohio Jo-Ann Stores announced today that it has signed a letter of intent to purchase the remaining 62% interest of IdeaForest.com Inc., the parent company of Joann.com.

“Since launching Joann.com with IdeaForest in 2000, we have developed a strong presence on the internet. Our site combines inspiration and commerce to make Joann.com the creative industry leader online,” said Darrell Webb, chairman, president, and ceo of Jo-Ann Stores.. “By more closely integrating the online business with our brick and mortar stores, we will not only improve customer satisfaction, but also deliver earnings accretion for shareholders.”

According to the company, Joann.com attracts an average of 2 million unique visitors per month and offers 65,000 products for the creative enthusiast including fabric, sewing and quilting items, scrapbooking supplies, crafts, knitting and crochet materials, and home decor goods.

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