The company, whose shares rose as much as 8 percent in premarket trade, has been struggling since a failed attempt by a former chief executive to take the chain more up-market. Sales fell 25 percent in 2012.
Penney said on Tuesday that while September same-store sales fell 4 percent over the same month last year, they showed an improvement of 580 basis points compared with August.
Women's and men's apparel, fine jewelry and women's accessories were performing better than average, the company said. Women's apparel, Penney's largest business, also had positive sales in September.
"Over the last six months, we have made significant strides and are now seeing positive signs in many important areas of the business, in spite of what continues to be a difficult environment for consumers and retailers in general," Chief Executive Myron Ullman said in a statement.
J.C Penney reiterated that it would end the year with more than $2 billion in cash, after taking into account proceeds of $785 million from a recent stock sale.
—Reuters With CNBC.com