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Sears Struggles Showing that Retail Sales Recovery is Uneven

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Sears Struggles Showing that Retail Sales Recovery is Uneven

Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD) posted its second quarter earnings which met Wall Street’s expectations, but revenue fell short of the estimates, owing to weaker sales at Sears and Kmart stores.

The Hoffman Estates-based retailer posted adjusted losses of 86 cents per share, with sales of $9.46 billion for the quarter ending July 28, against adjusted losses of $1.18 per share with sales of $10.1 billion last year. According to the released report, lower revenues on fewer stores in operation and declining comparable store sales were the main culprit for less than expected revenues.

Revenues from Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD) and Kmart stores with more than one year of operations, declined 2.9 percent and 7.1 percent respectively. The retailer narrowed down four reasons for the sluggish performance of the stores, which are, lower sales in consumer electronics and lawn & garden, lower clearance sales activity, and a conversion from brand name to generic drugs in Kmart pharmacies.

The company’s CEO, Lou D’Ambrosio, said in a memo to employees, they have reduced inventory and debt, which helped them to enhance liquidity. He said “We did what we said we were going to do.” The CEO also said the company continued with its plans to shutter stores and offload some of its Canadian operations. Moving forward, the plans are to invest more in “customer experience” through its loyalty rewards program, “Shop Your Way”, and also by sprucing up some of its stores.

Dismissing the claims from retail analyst Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz and Associates, that Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD) is in the process of liquidating, Chief Financial Officer Rob Schriesheim said in an interview with the Tribune, that the company is investing heavily in customer experience across all channels, including online shopping, social media, and stores. The Chief Financial Officer said “I think we’re doing the exact opposite, we have come out and said we are open to different asset configurations that will generate more value for shareholders.” He further explained “We’re continuously evaluating the best way to invest in the Sears retail ecosystem that includes stores, but also includes all online channels and targeted interaction and social media.”

For the third quarter, Sears expects to raise$ 446 million by divesting its Hometown and Outlet stores. On Wednesday, the company announced the ability to allow consumers to pay with their mobile phones, instead of cash or credit cards, joining an elite group of retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.(NYSE:WMT) and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), who also allow such transactions to their customers. Sears currently operates 2,587 Sears stores in the U.S. and Canada, as well as 1,304 Kmart Stores.

Eddie Lampert the founder of ESL Investments, a hedge fund with close to $6 billion in stated assets, is the largest shareholder of the company, with over 40% of shares outstanding. Other retailers who posted their earnings include, Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M), who reported their earnings last week, with a 16 percent increase in profit, or 67 cents a share, which beats analysts estimate of 64 cents a share. J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) also reported results for their second quarter with losses of $147 million (or 67¢ per share) and a decline of 23 percent in revenues.

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Aman Jain
Personal Finance Writer

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