Sears CFO: Company Has Everything It Needs For A Turnaround

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Sears CFO: Company Has Everything It Needs For A Turnaround
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Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) CEO and largest shareholder Eddie Lampert mentioned in his most recent shareholders letter that the company would be reaching out to investors and the public more often through its blog, and now CFO Rob Schriesheim has joined the fray. In his first Sears Holdings blog post, Schriesheim argues that the company has all the essential ingredients for a successful turnaround.

“Successful transformations always require three critical elements: financial staying power to fund the necessary investments, leadership committed to seeing things through challenging circumstances and long term investors who are willing to place their capital at risk,” writes Schriesheim. “We are fortunate that in the case of Sears Holdings, we have all three.”

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Lampert is still deeply invested in Sears

Lampert has come under criticism for the way he manages companies, but Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) was a struggling business in a transforming, if not fading, sector before he came along. He has recently reduced his exposure to the retail giant, as has ESL Investments under his management, but still has a 48%, $2.5 billion stake in Sears.  There’s no question that he has skin in the game. As Schriesheim points out, the company’s long-term investors and committed leadership are essentially one and the same.

As for staying power, “We are an asset rich enterprise with multiple levers at our disposal to create value and provide us with financial flexibility,” writes Schriesheim.

He cites $4 billion in extra liquidity through spin-offs, real estate sales, better efficiency, and access to debt markets as proof that management has plenty of options available to it to keep the company going. There’s also the $500 million that Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) expects to get from its spin-off of the Lands’ End brand, a $3.275 billion domestic credit facility, and billions more in assets. Schriesheim says that Sears isn’t going anywhere, and he’s probably right.

But where’s the profit?

“We should not confuse our poor profit performance with any lack of financial resources to fund the investments in our transformation,” writes Schriesheim, but the reverse is just as true.

Knowing that Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) isn’t facing a meltdown in the next year or two is important, but it has had declining sales for 28 straight quarters. Annual losses have grown from $930 million in 2012 to $1.4 billion in 2013. Investors don’t want to know that Sears has enormous amounts of value to burn through, they want to know when the years of ‘transformation’ will finally turn into profitability.

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