JC Penney is a dark horse retail stock: Analyst

JC Penney is a dark horse

One of the retail sector's most beaten-up stocks could have an upside surprise, analysts said Thursday.

Shares of J.C. Penney may be set for a move higher as discount shoppers spend gas savings on consumer goods, said Matt Boss, senior retail analyst at JPMorgan.

"I think your dark horse out there is J.C. Penney. I think it fits this low-end profile. It has gas price correlation," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box." "I think if they put up a first quarter that's a little bit better than expected—you have the new CEO going on the road post-earnings in May and June—I think that one actually sets up pretty well."

In October, J.C. Penney announced it had appointed Marvin Ellison, outgoing executive vice president of stores at Home Depot, as president and CEO. He will succeed current Chief Executive Mike Ullman.

J.C. Penney saw its shares plummet in 2012 during a turnaround effort led by then-CEO Ron Johnson. The stock has fallen more than 70 percent during the last three years.

Jan Kniffen, CEO of J Rogers Kniffen Worldwide, agreed that J.C. Penney could have a better 2015 than many expect. His view is driven by what he sees as a misperception that the retailer is going to face tough comparisons to past comparable-store sales—a key metric in the retail sector.

"In fact the things they were doing are just starting to show up in the stores to work for them, and I think the low-end consumer with better gas prices is going to be right there with them," he told "Squawk Box."

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