McQuarie Research analyst Liz Dunn said she did not expect the new executives to impact the apparel retailer’s earnings until next year.
“As I think about it, J.C. Penney really has three problems: They’ve got a brand problem, some would argue a product problem and also some structural issues,” she said.
1. The brand problem: “I feel very confident that the new team — Michael Francis in particular, who comes from Target — will be able to make some improvements in how the brand is perceived by customers,” Dunn said.
2. The product problem: “They’re calling out Mike Kramer, who comes from Apple, as you point out, but also has a background from Abercrombie & Fitch and Kellwood, where he moved their assortment from being very moderate to a little more updated, a little more contemporary and higher-priced products, so he could potentially have an impact on the product at Penney’s.”
3. The structural issues: “I think they have too many stores, the stores are too big and they’re weirdly configured and in bad malls,” she said. “I think that’s where Ron Johnson can really step in and bring his talent to the table.”
Stephen Weiss of Short Hills Capital wasn’t sold on the executive shuffle.
(Related Story: Is Apple Damaged as Retail 'Visionary' Leaves for J.C. Penney?)
“The market is not willing to give Tim Cook any credit at Apple for what he’s done — he’s actually run the company — versus giving Ron Johnson so much credit for Apple retail,” he said. “Well, I will tell you Steve Jobs was as much involved in that as he was in anything.”
Dunn countered that Johnson is known for creating “customer engagement” and a selling environment that “excites the customer.”
“It’s more of a catalyst than you have with some of these names,” she said, adding the caveat that she was neutral-weight rated on the stock for now.
“I think that we should see some choppy results from Penney’s in the near-term as we hear from them and they figure out their strategy,” she said. “And the company is being very tight-lipped until their Jan. 25 analyst day.”
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Trader disclosure: On November 14, 2011, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders;
Najarian is long AAPL; Najarian is long C; Najarian is long WFC; Najarian is long MS; Najarian is long INTC; Najarian is long YHOO; Najarian is long WFT calls; Najarian is long GE; Najarian is long GRPN;
Weiss owns WLP; Weiss owns RIG; Weiss owns UO; Weiss owns MOS; Weiss owns SPY puts; Weiss is short TCK; Weiss owns RIMM; Weiss owns HPQ; Weiss owns WLT; Dicker owns Apache
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