This Left-For-Dead Stock Could Have A Huge Turnaround In 2015

It’s hard to watch when one of America’s great 20th century success stories falls on hard times. 

#-ad_banner-#It’s even harder to watch when the company’s struggles are simply the result of a complete disregard for its history, its primary demographics, and its place among competitors in the business.

But as I’ll show you in a moment, one simple strategic change could create fantastic returns for investors… 

The change I’m talking about is a change in leadership. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. 

As I’ll show you in today’s essay, this one simple change can lead to a refocus on the tried-and-true principles that led to a company’s success in the first place. And once things get back on track, it can often lead to big profits for companies and shareholders alike.

I’ve got my eye on one left-for-dead American company that’s poised to do just that… And the changes it’s making today could lead shares to bounce back in a major way in 2015.

But before I tell you about the company, let me show you just exactly what a simple leadership change has done for companies in the past…

The turnaround I’m looking at today reminds me of a few success stories I’ve seen before. 

Just look at IBM. Its stock dropped 46.5% from 1990 through 1992, when then-CEO John Akers failed to see the major changes that were taking place with personal computers. No longer were computers simply a piece of equipment for some businesses… They were getting cheaper and more powerful than ever before, and IBM had failed to innovate under Akers’ leadership and adapt to this change. The company became irrelevant and Akers was let go. 

Enter former Nabisco CEO Lou Gertsner, who in 1993 began to shift the company’s focus to consumers. This helped the tech company’s shares shoot up almost 90% in a little over a year. Fast-forward to nine years later, and IBM’s share price grew nearly 700% by the time Gerstner stepped down. 

Or look at Starbucks which rehired a former CEO when the company began floundering. 

After Howard Schultz resumed his role as CEO for Starbucks in 2008, the retail coffee chain had a complete reversal and soared almost 350% by the time Schultz stepped down in 2013. A lot of that was thanks to the forward-looking leadership he brought back into the company — such as adding new products to Starbucks’ menus and focusing on expanding heavily into global markets. 

The market crash and recession hardly even made a blip in the stock’s performance.

History is littered with examples of companies experiencing huge turnarounds after simply changing leadership and implementing a new company culture — or in some cases, falling back on their original culture. 

And if history is any guide, I think the same thing could happen for department store retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP).

In recent years, the company has faced difficult times. Its 2013 year-end revenue dropped over 31% from where it was just two years prior — and the company has lost more than $2.6 billion over the last three fiscal years. But the 112-year old retailer took a major step in attempting to remake its once-successful business model last year when it fired former CEO Ron Johnson. 

By the time he was finally sent packing in April of 2013, the company’s stock price had nosedived 53.9% during his tenure. 

Getting rid of Johnson was a big step in right direction. But hiring Mike Ullman later that month — who actually ran the company previously — was an even bigger one.

Ullman has already seen some early success since his return. Very few analysts on Wall Street are talking about it, but since he took back the reins, J.C. Penny’s quarterly decline in same-store sales has begun to narrow… and revenue has started to increase. 

The results so far are certainly impressive enough on their own, but it shouldn’t overshadow two other savvy moves Ullman has made. 

First, he brought back the private J.C. Penney labels that Johnson had foolishly gotten rid of — brands that have strongly resonated with core customers in the past.

Second, he decided to get rid of some of the newer brands that Johnson had brought in that were never able to find much traction. 

While it’s difficult to measure the benefits of these simple moves so far, they are an important and active step toward bringing J.C. Penney back to the beloved retail giant it once was.

That’s why I think J.C. Penney has a chance to retake its place as one of the country’s top retailers. 

Ullman knows the company — he understands its place in the retail spectrum. And, more importantly, he knows the tastes and tendencies of the people who shop there. 

He’s even making moves to create a more relevant online-shopping experience for J.C. Penney customers too — a segment of the business its former CEO could never be bothered with. 

Internet sales had fallen to just $215 million per quarter under Ron Johnson. After less than 6 months under Ullman, Internet sales jumped by nearly 25%. 

Gross margins also improved in the company’s second quarter — up to 36%, compared to 29.6% in the same quarter last year. 

While a lot of this has to do with Ullman’s transformation of the company’s retail side, it’s his understanding of the back office demands that really has me excited about J.C. Penney’s future. When Ullman took over, the company had working capital of less than $300 million — in just three quarters, he increased it to just under $2 billion. 

The company has finally gotten rid of stuff that its core customers didn’t want, it’s restocked its beloved private label bands, and it now has enough cash on hand to get started on the road to a true recovery.

And while J.C. Penney may face some challenges in the short-term, it’s still considered a “deep value” play. 

The company currently trades at a market capitalization that is only 86% of its net asset value. In other words, the company holds more value on its store shelves than what the market thinks the entire company is worth. For reference, the average S&P 500 company trades at 264% of its net asset value. 

And while its current share price is about $11, I predict it could reach an $18-$22 price target by the end of 2015 as Ullman’s influence continues to bring the company back to prominence — meaning investors could potentially earn 100% gains just over a year from now. 

J.C. Penney isn’t the only retailer that could deliver 100% gains by the end of 2015. I’ve actually found another one with even more upside. Like Penney, it’s been left for dead… but it’s making some big management changes that I think could give it a major boost over the next year. I talk about this company — and 10 other under-the-radar investment opportunities — in my new report, The 11 Most Shocking Investment Predictions for 2015. Readers who’ve followed my annual predictions reports have seen gains of 92%, 293% and even 310% in a year. I’m even more optimistic about this year’s report. To get free access to all of my investing predictions for 2015, go here.

This article was originally published by StreetAuthority under the title: This Left-For-Dead Stock Could Have A Huge Turnaround In 2015