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Soros increases Penney stake; two other large investors shed holdings

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — As turmoil continues to surround J.C. Penney, one investor is upping his support of the embattled retailer even as two other large investors leave. Regulatory filings on Wednesday revealed that billionaire investor George Soros has added two million shares to his current 19.98 million in Penney holdings.

The latest investment makes Soros Fund Management Penney’s second-largest investor, behind disgruntled hedge fund manager Bill Ackman.

Ackman, who earlier resigned from the retailer’s board after an unsuccessful rally to oust interim CEO Mike Ullman and speed up the search for a new CEO, owns 39 million shares through his Pershing Square Capital Management.

Other investors aren’t expressing the same Soros confidence.

Hotchkis & Wiley, with 10.1 million Penney shares at the end of the second quarter, and Tiger Global Management, with 5.3 million shares, have liquidated their positions. Glenview Capital reduced its holdings from 9.5 million to 8.4 million shares. And Fidelity Management & Research has reduced its position by half – to 4.6 million shares.

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Kohl’s Q2 profit dips 4%, meets Street

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Menomonee Falls, Wis. — Kohl’s Corp. reported that profit for the quarter ended Aug. 3 fell 4% to $231 million, compared with $240 million in the year-ago period. Results were impacted by rising costs, but still met Wall Street expectations.

Sales edged up 2% to $4.29 billion from $4.21 billion in the period, and matched analysts’ expectations. Same-store sales rose 0.9%, missing Wall Street’s estimated 1.1% rise.

“We are pleased with our progress in the second quarter,” said Kevin Mansell, CEO. “Sales improved significantly over the first quarter and our gross margin improved over last year. Expenses were well-managed and we ended the quarter with inventory per store up mid-single digits while funding our e-commerce growth.”

The company opened nine new stores during first quarter 2013 and said it expects to open three new stores and remodel 30 stores in the fall.

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Dillard’s Q2 profit on the upswing

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Little Rock, Ark. — Dillard’s saw net income rise to $36.5 million in the quarter ended Aug. 3, compared with $31 million in the same period last year.

Revenue was flat at $1.48 billion and same-store sales edged up 1%, boosted by strength from ladies accessories and lingerie.

“Positive comparable store sales and gross margin expansion combined with continued expense control enabled us to report another quarter of year over year improvement,” said CEO William T. Dillard II.

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