2015 deep value trade pays off early on JC Penney

A JC Penney store in Brooklyn, New York.
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A JC Penney store in Brooklyn, New York.

A bet on struggling retailer J.C. Penney catapulted CNBC "Halftime Report" trader Jim Lebenthal to first place in the show's stock trading competition.

"J.C. Penney has been trading as if the company is going out of business," Lebenthal said. "It's very clear to me they are going to survive."

Lebenthal is going with a deep value, out-of-favor strategy in order to win the Halftime Report Portfolio, a new premium feature for CNBC.com which will track the picks of the traders from the show 24/7, throughout 2015.

Among his other picks for the year-long competition are ...