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April 9, 2013  Tue 8:12 AM CT

Mike's a good man, but it just might be too hard to save. I am talking about the overthrow of Ron Johnson at J.C. Penney and the possibility of coming back from down 30 percent comps, a possibility that is unheard of in recent times in the department-store business. I just don't know if interim CEO Mike Ullman has it in him to patch things up until a full-time chief executive comes in.

I worry about J.C. Penney. My late mom worked at Lit Brothers and my dad at Gimbel's. One of the reasons I was so negative about what was happening at Penney is that I have seen these kinds of companies collapse in no time. They just have horrendous economics when things go bad, and I think the main reason that it was essential to bring Ullman back is that he will tell the creditors straight and can be counted on to get the company through Christmas--which, believe me, is the big worry as I am sure that the creditors are scared to death of this situation.

TheStreet.com logoI think there were a lot of things said about Penney in the last year by management that simply were way too optimistic. This company had been doing well as recently as 2005. Even as it underperformed the majors in the last years of Ullman's tutelage, it always had a fighting chance to turn around. People sure believed that Johnson could do it.

The common stock's down badly because I think that it's dawning on investors how bad things really must be. I am sure there are others who say, "Oh no, Ullman again. He was terrible."

I don't think the issue is where the common will go. I think the issue is squarely whether the company will survive, and I think it has a better chance of surviving with Ullman at the helm for now than anyone else. If it were really about to close, why would Ullman bother, other than to say, "I told you so," as his mistreatment by Johnson was the stuff of legend.

I am glad the Johnson era is over. Now maybe we can stop talking about some retailer that really isn't nearly as important as the media made it. But, then again, the media loves a good train wreck, and this certainly defined that term.

Disclosures: Cramer's charitable trust has no positions in the stocks mentioned.
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