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Stocks to Watch: J.C. Penney, Groupon, Sears

Tickers in this article: CRM GRPN HNZ JCP KSS SHLD WMT

NEW YORK -- J.C. Penney's(JCP) fourth-quarter loss widened from a year earlier as sales plunged almost 30%.

The department store chain on Wednesday posted a quarterly loss of $552 million, or $2.51 a share, wider than the year-earlier loss of $87 million, or 41 cents a share. The adjusted loss in the period was $1.95 a share; analysts forecast a loss of 18 cents a share.

Fiscal fourth-quarter revenue fell 28.4% to $3.88 billion and same-store sales fell 31.7%. Analysts expected the retailer to post revenue of $4.09 billion.

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Groupon (GRPN) , the daily deals company, missed Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings estimates.

Groupon reported on Wednesday a fourth-quarter adjusted loss of 5 cents a share on revenue of $638.3 million. Analysts were looking for earnings of 3 cents a share on revenue of $638.4 million.

Operating cash flow in the quarter plunged 61% to $65.7 million from $169.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The company provided first-quarter guidance that was sharply below Wall Street expectations. Groupn expects sales to be between $560 million and $610 million, a year-over-year increase of between 0% and 9%. Wall Street analysts are expecting sales of $647.7 million.

Groupon Sinks as Cash Flows Plunge

Sears(SHLD) is expected by analysts Thursday to post fourth-quarter earnings of 98 cents a share on revenue of $11.77 billion.

Kohl's(KSS) is expected by Wall Street to post fourth-quarter profit of $1.63 a share on revenue of $6.24 billion.

Act Two of This Week's Retail Earnings

The Securities and Exchange Commissioner has escalated an investigation into suspicious trades placed ahead of the $23 billion takeover of H. J. Heinz(HNZ) , focusing on a complex derivative bet routed through London, The New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the matter.

Wall Street expects software company Salesforce.com(CRM) to report quarterly earnings of 40 cents a share when it issues its results after the markets close Thursday.

Wal-Mart's(WMT) chief administrative officer, Tom Mars, is steeping down after working for the giant retailer for more than a decade.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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