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Analyst cuts JC Penney rating, price target

NEW YORK (AP) — J.P. Morgan cut its rating and price target for J.C. Penney after another dismal quarter of falling sales and new questions about its turnaround strategy.

Shares, which have been declining since it reported earnings last week, edged lower to levels not seen in more than three years.

The retailers' decision to get rid of coupons and sales in favor of lower everyday prices has not taken hold and it posted third-quarter losses of $123 million Friday and revenue tumbled almost 27 percent. It was the third consecutive quarter of losses.

J.P. Morgan's Matthew Boss acknowledged some improvement in stores as the company tries to update an outdated look, but the said there remains a lack of a "call to action."

Boss cut his rating to "Neutral" from "Overweight" and reduced his price target to $20 from $30. While encouraged by reduced inventory levels and other changes at stores, Boss feels that marketing and pricing efforts have fallen short.

On Tuesday Fitch lowered the issuer default ratings of J.C. Penney. That followed a similar move made by Standard & Poor's on Friday.

Shares of J.C. Penney Co., based in Plano, Texas, slid 10 cents to $17.30 in afternoon trading, after falling as low as $17.19 earlier in the day.

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