J.C. Penney Co. posted a loss of $284 million in the fourth quarter, as a result of a disappointing holiday-sales season and charges for store closings. But the retailer's loss excluding the charges was smaller than Wall Street expected. The company said Thursday its loss was $1.11 per share for the three months ended Jan. 27 compared with a loss of $12 million, or 8 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding the one-time charges, the loss was 3 cents per share, narrower than the 5-cent loss expected among analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial. Revenue fell to $9.75 billion from $9.83 billion a year earlier. Thursday's report marked the second straight losing quarter for Penney, which also operates Eckerd drugstores. In the fourth quarter, sales at department stores open at least a year fell 1.6 percent from late 1999. Internet sales nearly doubled, although they account for a small fraction of company revenue. Same-store sales at Eckerd rose 8.1 percent. For the full 2000, Penney posted a net loss of $409 million, or $1.68 per share, compared with a profit of $336 million, or $1.16 per share in 1999. Revenue for the year was $32.6 billion versus $32.51 billion a year ago.
Burger King's operating profits were down 7 percent to $143.5 million in the six months ending in December, parent company Diageo PLC, the food and drinks conglomerate, said. The company blamed a cold winter and weak marketing promotions in the United States. While the number of total Burger King restaurants is up to 11,345, worldwide comparable restaurant sales were down 6 percent for the six months, Diageo said. Diageo intends to spin off Burger King in the next few years. Diageo reported second-half sales of $9.92 billion, up from $9.56 billion in 1999. The company's operating profits were up 11 percent to $1.79 billion, from $1.67 billion for 1999.