Paul R. A lot Shares of JCPenney plunged 10% early Thursday morning and now trade for less than $2.80 a share. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. Any such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, and the company's future results of operations could differ materially from historical results or current expectations. So having said that we took appropriate markdowns and pricing actions in the first quarter to address slow moving inventory and make room for new product.
As such our liquidity position at the end of the first quarter was approximately $2 billion. We believe that JCPenney can leverage our unique position in the marketplace to achieve $100 million growth opportunities in special size 2018. As it relates to the inventory we do believe that we have an ongoing opportunity to induce -- reduce our inventory levels. I guess any sense on magnitude of the improvement that you've seen in May?
Thank you for taking my call. This has been very important to set the stage for what we're starting to work on now which is creating a very much inspiring experience on the website. So you may recall that last year we had sold the Paramus New Jersey facility which we are actually closing this fiscal year. And so our partnership with Shaquille O'Neal is to take our market share lead in men's big and tall and leading to even more.
Watch J.C. Stay in the loop! The longer winter and late start to spring weighed on customer traffic. JCPenney is in serious trouble. That means JCPenney is now a penny stock, Wall Street jargon for a company with a stock price in the low single digits. All times are ET. Please note that no portion of this presentation may be rebroadcast in any form without the prior written consent of JCPenney. And third, our negative comp performance in Women's [specialty] apparel created gross margin pressure.
Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the first quarter were $181 million which was $182 million less than the end of the first quarter last year. Our second key area is beauty, we have a significant opportunity to leverage our total beauty experience. If you take a look at our weeks of supply on hand that's a definitely an opportunity for us. Matt on the calendar shift it's marginal. But also this year so far as with any other quarter we had already taken some actions, as related to our operations above store level as well as a few areas here at home office.
So that will work more seamless for our customers. And in that transaction, we realized the $50 million gain, $20 million of the $50 million was recognized last year and $30 million of it was recognized this year. Not to mention our kids plus business, Boys Husky, Girls Plus. And then just here in 2Q, that will seems like April got significantly better, if I recall back on 2Q of last year May was your toughest compare of the year.
Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from breaking finance news to money-saving tricks delivered directly to your inbox daily! JCPenney reported comparable sales of 0.2%, missing the 2.1% estimate from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. There's no sugarcoating it. Perhaps the most worrisome thing for JCPenney, though, is that it appears to be running out of both cash and time to fix things.