The inaugural quarterly results from newly merged Sears Holdings didn't impress investors, who sent its stock tumbling yesterday after the...
CHICAGO — The inaugural quarterly results from newly merged Sears Holdings didn’t impress investors, who sent its stock tumbling yesterday after the nation’s No. 3 retailer posted a small first-quarter loss amid still-sluggish sales at Kmart and Sears stores.
Sears Holdings, created through Kmart Holding’s March 24 acquisition of Sears, Roebuck, reported a $9 million loss, or 7 cents a share, for the February-April period.
The results include a $90 million charge related to a change in how Sears accounts for certain inventory costs. Without the charge, the company reported a profit of $81 million, or 65 cents per share.
The results sent Sears shares falling $13.41, or 8.7 percent, to $141.50 yesterday.
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Some analysts said investors likely were unhappy about Sears’ inability to grow sales at its existing Kmart and Sears locations.
Kmart’s same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least one year, fell 3.7 percent on lower demand for seasonal items stemming from bad weather this spring.
Same-store sales at U.S. Sears stores fell 3.1 percent.
“On the battlefield of gaining and losing customers, they’re losing as a retailer,” said retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York-based Davidowitz & Associates.
“You cannot continue to lose market share and survive in retailing,” Davidowitz said.
Sears Chairman Edward Lampert seemed to refute that notion in a message to shareholders yesterday. He said the newly formed Sears Holdings is willing to forgo market-share gains in favor of “creating value” through improved cash flow and strategic acquisitions, for example.
There are early signs that the same strategies Lampert used to lift Kmart out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy — such as cutting costs and improving cash flow — already are showing up at U.S. Sears stores, said independent retail analyst Richard Hastings.
Hastings called the performance at Sears stores “a nice turnaround despite tough weather conditions.” He also pointed out that Kmart’s 3.7 percent slide in same-store sales was a big improvement over the 12.9 percent drop from a year earlier.
The $12.3 billion acquisition of Sears by Kmart gave Sears Holdings a combined 3,800 stores in the United States and Canada, pairing Sears’ most-successful products — such as Craftsman tools, Kenmore appliances and DieHard batteries — with such Kmart brands as Martha Stewart, Jaclyn Smith and Joe Boxer. The company is converting 400 Kmart stores to the new midsize Sears Essential concept.