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March 2 (Reuters) - Sales at J.C. Penney Co Inc's established stores missed Wall Street targets in the fourth quarter and it forecast broadly lower-than-expected full-year profit, hurt by weak demand for its clothes and online competition.
The department store operator's stock fell 12 percent in pre-market trade on Friday.
The Plano, Texas-based retailer also cut 360 jobs as part of restructuring and cost-cutting efforts that are expected to save between $20 million and $25 million in costs annually.
That follows J.C. Penney's announcement last month that it would close its Milwaukee distribution and customer care center and cut about 670 jobs. The retailer and its subsidiaries had about 106,000 full-time and part-time employees at the end of January.
J.C. Penney's results lagged relatively strong holiday-quarter sales from Macy's Inc and Kohls Corp's earlier this week.
Many retailers have been forced to shutter stores and slash jobs as they rethink their operational structures in the face of competition from Amazon.com Inc and other online retailers.
Comparable-store sales rose 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, missing analysts' average estimate of a 2.94 percent increase.
J.C. Penney forecast full-year earnings of between 5 cents and 25 cents per share, largely below analysts' average expectation of 20 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The retailer's weaker-than-expected sales growth took investors by surprise after it said in January it had seen strong demand for home, beauty products and jewelry during the holiday shopping season.
J.C. Penney's apparel businesses underperformed during the quarter, Chief Executive Marvin Ellison said on a call to discuss earnings. Fixing the women's apparel business, particularly activewear, dresses, contemporary and casual sportswear, would be a strategic priority this year, he said.
Net profit fell to $254 million in the fourth quarter from $192 million, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, J.C. Penney earned 57 cents per share, ahead of the analysts' estimates of 47 cents.
Net sales rose 1.8 percent to $4.03 billion, missing the average expectation of $4.05 billion.
J.C. Penney also announced four executive changes on Friday, including making Chief Information Officer Therace Risch responsible for the retailer's digital business as well, replacing Mike Amend. (Reporting by Richa Naidu in Chicago and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Bill Rigby)