J.C. Penney Co. made a radical break with tradition by hiring Silicon Valley wunderkind Ron Johnson as chief executive officer. With Johnson gone, the chain may have to pursue more radical options, such as selling itself.

After suffering a 25 percent annual sales decline, J.C. Penney yesterday ousted Johnson, 54, and replaced him with his predecessor, Myron E. Ullman III, 66. Investors, who pushed the shares up 13 percent on news that Johnson was out, abruptly sold after learning Ullman was the new CEO. J.C. Penney sank 12 percent to $13.93 at the close in New York for the lowest price since 2001.

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