Department store giant JC Penney Co Inc was celebrating on Tuesday after its quarterly profits more than doubled as customers rushed to buy its stylish merchandise.

The Texas-based retailer, which also owns the Eckerd drugstore chain, said first quarter net income to April leapt to $86 million, or 29 cents a share, from $41m, or 13 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

In a statement, the firm said the results were boosted by four cents a share from two previously disclosed non-cash items. It also now expects operating earnings of around a $1 a share for the full year, compared with 39 cents in 2001.

Same-store sales at its department stores jumped 7.9 per cent as it benefited from fashionable merchandise, an improved visual presentation, and more aggressively planned marketing programs.

Chairman and CEO, Allen Questrom, said the results were "additional evidence that our turnaround is on track". He also expressed confidence that operating profit will return to competitive levels over the next few years.