It has signed a letter of intent to lease 150,000 sf, with a125,000-sf retail area, in Manhattan Mall, which, as GSR reported,was acquired this January by Vornado Realty Trust. The store,located on Sixth Ave. between 32nd and 33rd streets, is one blockfrom rival Macy's flagship in Herald Square. It will be constructedin conjunction with Vornado's redevelopment of the mall.

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This will be Penney's first store in Manhattan. MichaelDastuque, Penney's SVP of property development, said it will be"the centerpiece of Manhattan Mall . . . a showcase in the fashioncapital of the US." As GSR previously reported, Penney set up atemporary "pop up" store in Times Square in 2006, where itshowcased its newest fashion merchandise and sold throughinteractive kiosks.

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Houston and Chicago are also among the markets slated foradditional Penney units as it picks up the pace. Dastuque says thecompany opened just one new store in Chicago over the past 10years. By contrast, it will open six new units there this year,another three in 2008, "and we're pursuing more in 2009 andbeyond," he says.

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The company has also juggled its assets in Houston, closingthree mall locations and opening five. This year it will addanother two and open three more in 2011.

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The 250 new units on the drawing boards will be distributedacross the country "with a special focus on the top 20 markets,"Dastuque says. Off-mall formats will be used to grow the storebase, and new mall locations will be limited to opportunistictakeover locations, particularly in areas where retail space islimited.

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Openings will take the company's total number of US units above1,200 by 2011. Between 2008 and 2011, Penney plans to invest nearly$1.3 billion a year in capital expenditures.

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The off-mall format will also be the model for renovations.There will be 300 of those within the next five years. The goal,Dastuque says, "is to make them look as close to new as possible."At renovated stores to date, profits have improved 21%, headds.

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During the analyst meeting, Myron Ullman, chairman and CEO, saidthe long-range plan "is designed to make JC Penney the growthleader in the retail industry." Its vision, he says, "is to be thepreferred shopping choice for Middle America."

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Financial projections call for total sales increases in mid- tohigh single digits annually, and comp store increases in the low tomid single digits each year. The company also expects a 16%compound annual growth rate in earnings per share from 2008 through2011, according to Ullman.

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JCP common stock ended trading on the NYSE at $80.87 a share,down nearly 1.2%, on the day of the analyst meeting on April 18.The 52-week high of $87.18 a share was reached on this Feb. 21. The52-week low of $59.51 a share occurred on May 30, 2006.

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