Despite the large loan, the company still faces an uphill battle, Dunn told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
"They basically need to build back their sales base by an incremental $2.6 billion to get back into positive earnings territory," she said. "It's a long way to go."
Although Dunn forecast first-quarter improvement for Penney, she still thinks the period's going to be a difficult one in part due to a home-goods department renovation that sidelined a significant portion of the company's selling square footage.
During Johnson's tenure, J.C. Penney same-store sales fell sharply, sliding 25.2 percent in fiscal 2012. But the bleeding could begin to stop, Dunn predicted, and comps could return to positive territory as early as the back half of this year as the company begins to focus on the crucial back-to-school selling season.
"I think they're looking at that as really their opportunity to turn comps back into positive territory so it's possible," she said. "I don't think we're going to see a positive double digit comp, which is again what we would need again to get them back into positive earnings territory, but I do think we could see them positive."
—By CNBC.com's Katie Little; Follow her on Twitter @Katie_Little_
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Liz Dunn does not own J.C. Penney stock.