The drip, drip, drip of Sears Holdings Corp.'s (SHLD) demise continues.
Shares of the retailer fell more than 11% on Thursday, May 31, to $2.85 a share at 1:51 p.m. ET, on the particulars of Sears' rough first quarter, which included plummeting same-store sales, the closing of more stores, and revenue down some 30% from the previous year.
Total same-store sales dropped nearly 12%, with the biggest decline coming from Sears stores at 13.4% and Kmart stores at nearly 10%. Same-store sales are a measure of a retailer's health, and this metric revealed that Sears has been gasping for air.
"After more than a decade under Chairman [Eddie] Lampert's leadership, it's rather remarkable that only now has Sears identified about 100 nonprofitable stores and plans to close 72 stores," wrote analyst Bill Dreher of Susquehanna International Group in a note published on Thursday.
"Perhaps it has simply been a decade of insufficient investment and the lack of focus on core retail blocking and tackling skills, combined with the worst spring shopping weather in 25 years that flipped these stores to being nonprofitable. It just strikes us as peculiar that this nonprofitable determination has only been made now, and question what the incremental catalyst is, at this time to drive Sears to this disposition. We would have believed that Sears could find a defensible base of stores to operate profitably, and it appears that base is ever shrinking. Holdings perennial position that their 'top priority is successfully executing (their) transformation to return to profitability and remain a competitive retailer for years to come' appears to us to be less and less grounded in reality."
Moody's Investor Service Vice President Christina Boni in a statement post-earnings release has this to say: "Sears continues to struggle to bring its business to profitability with comps again falling 11.9% in the first quarter. Its continued efforts to enhance liquidity will be necessary to fund its ongoing operating losses."
Here's more bad news for the retailer:
First-quarter revenue fell to $2.9 billion from $4.2 billion a year earlier, with Sears blaming store closures for most of the decline.
Total Sears and Kmart stores now stand at under 900, and the company is planning to shut down 72 stores "in the near future."
The company reported a first-quarter loss of $424 million, or $3.93 a diluted share, a reversal from earnings a year earlier of $245 million, or $2.29 a share. Last year's numbers included a bump of about $492 million from the sale of the Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. in October 2017 in a deal valued at $900 million.
Sears reported negative adjusted EBITDA of $225 million vs $220 million a year earlier.
Sears said it was working to transform the business into a "member-centric retailer," with the process being overseen by a committee to explore more asset sales. ESL Investments, the hedge fund company of Sears' Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert, has expressed interest in buying the brand.
After having sold its Craftsman brand and other assets, including real estate, the company is looking into selling its Kenmore appliance brand, with Kenmore products now being sold also on the web site of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report .