Department store company JC Penney said it recorded a better-than-predicted first quarter, thanks to strong shoes and jewellery sales plus private brands strength.

Net income was US$210m in the quarter compared to $172 the year before, beating analysts' estimates.

"We are pleased with the progress the company continues to make in executing the long-range plan, which is focused on building long-term growth for our business," said Myron E Ullman, chairman and CEO.

"While economic indicators are generally positive, we know that our customers - the moderate consumer - are faced with high energy prices and increasing interest rates. This makes it even more important that we deliver the style, quality, and shopping experience they want."