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A schizophrenic ride for Penney investors in a 24-hour period frought with confusion.

Just one day after J.C. Penney said it was pleased with its turnaround and reportedly said doesn't need to raise cash, it said it'll raise up to $932 million by selling new shares at $9.65 ... 7 percent less than its price Thursday. That's bad news for current investors because it'll boost the number of shares by nearly 40 percent, diluting their holdings. The struggling retailer says it'll use the cash for "general corporate purposes."

Penney's stock fell sharply at the start of trading. J.P. Morgan slashed its price target by nearly 40 percent to $8 a share and UBS cut its target to $7.

UBS analyst Michael Binetti said: "While an equity raise improves near term liquidity, we remain concerned that JCP will continue to burn cash in 2014 and beyond."

Penney has been using cash to undo what former CEO Ron Johnson did. Johnson tried to wean shoppers away from the coupon mentality and steer them toward designer brands, but that only drove customers away. His successor, Mike Ullman, has brought back coupons and old in-house brands in an attempt to rescue the company.

Activist investor, Bill Ackman, who had brought Johnson in to try to rescue Penney, might take heart. At least he cut his deep losses short by dumping his 18 percent stake last month.

 

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