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J.C. Penney reports Q2 2019 earnings

Shoppers sit outside of a J.C. Penney store at the Westfield Mall in Culver City, California.

Martina Albertazzi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

J.C. Penney reported mixed second-quarter results Thursday as sales eroded faster than expected.

The department store chain reported a net loss of $48 million, or 15 cents a share, narrower than its loss of $101 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, Penney lost 18 cents a share, compared with  analysts' forecasts of a loss of 31 cents.

Despite the smaller loss, sales fell more than had been anticipated. Revenue for the quarter ended Aug. 3 fell 7.4% to $2.62 billion from $2.8 billion a year earlier. That was lower than analyst expectations of $2.69 billion.

Sales at Penney stores open for at least a year were down 9%, worse than an expected drop of 5.2% percent.

The retailer said it was able to cut its inventory by 12.5% in the second quarter.

Last week, the company received notice that it was at risk of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Its stock fell below $1 on July 19 and has been trading below that level ever since. On Wednesday, it hit an all-time low of 53 cents. In trading before the market's open Thursday, shares were sharply higher, trading at 65 cents.

Penney is also burdened with around $4 billion in debt and has announced that it is working with advisors to restructure it.

While investors have been unsure whether CEO Jill Soltau can turn the 117-year-old company around, she continues to announce new initiatives. On Thursday, the company said it will partner with secondhand retailer ThredUp. Macy's announced a partnership with the online clothing retailer a day earlier.

Since arriving at Penney 10 months ago, Soltau has announced plans to close 18 department stores, along with nine home and furniture stores in 2019. She also made the decision to get out of the appliance business, which it had previously heavily focused on.

Shares of the company have been down more than 45% since January, bringing it to a market value of about $181 million.

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