J.C. Penney gets $1-billion boost after picking Apple exec as CEO

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J.C. Penney Co. shares are rocketing Tuesday after the retailer said it lured Apple Inc.’s Ron Johnson to take over as chief executive of the 1,100-store chain.

The stock was up $5.66, or 19%, to $35.77 at about 11 a.m. PDT, boosting Penney’s market value by $1.2 billion, to $7.6 billion.


Johnson, 52, has led Apple’s highly successful retail-store strategy for the last 11 years. Before that he was a merchandising executive at Target Corp. for 15 years.

“I’ve always dreamed of leading a major retail company as CEO, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help J.C. Penney reimagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the department store,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson will take over Nov. 1. Penney’s current chief executive, Myron E. Ullman III, will become executive chairman of the Plano, Texas-based company.

Penney has been under pressure from its largest shareholder, William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital, to improve its performance. Pershing owns 18.2% of the stock.

Ackman sounded pleased on Tuesday, telling Bloomberg News that “it’s a credit to the company that they were able to recruit an executive of Ron’s capabilities.”

Apple said it was “actively recruiting” to replace Johnson. Apple shares were up $5.20 to $331.80 on a strong day for the market overall.

-- Tom Petruno