Look out below.
Sure, I could pile on the Warren Buffett buying more Apple (AAPL) coverage (as I have said, Buffett is betting on Apple being worth $2 trillion). But that's boring, why not return to a topic I have been covering for 13 years: the death of former retailer Sears Holdings (SHLD) .
Sears chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert wrote a letter to the board (which is weird because Lampert controls the company, in effect he is writing himself) released on Tuesday evening (it's always after-market hours with Sears) offering to buy what's left of the Kenmore home appliances business. In the letter, Lampert offers several clues Sears could be headed into its final holiday season amid a major cash crunch. Take note of the comments in bold as they are red flags on Sears current cash position:
"We are writing to submit a non-binding proposal to acquire Kenmore and SHIP and to update the Special Committee regarding our plans with respect to Parts Direct and certain other transactions, as well as to re-emphasize our firm belief that these transactions should be undertaken together with tender and exchange offers designed to allow Sears to reduce its debt, extend its maturity profile and alleviate its liquidity challenges." "As we noted in our May 25, 2018 letter to the Special Committee, speed and certainty here are critical. We believe, therefore, that an expedited process is in the best interest of all parties involved."
Why is "speed and certainty critical" in Sears case? Keep in mind for the 13-weeks ended May 5, Sears chewed up $1.2 billion in cash just to support its operations that continue to hemorrhage money. The company ended the first quarter with a mere $466 million in cash ahead of shipments of the all-important back to school, early fall shopping seasons. That's a terrible position to be in for a retailer of Sears' size. It's reasonable to expect the company had another brutal second quarter and suppliers are getting worried about being paid for the holidays. This isn't rocket science stuff, it's standard procedure for retailers that are falling apart -- we have seen the script before. Shares are down 51 percent in three months for a reason.
Shares tanked 13% on Wednesday's session.
Here's a dose of simple research TheStreet did on Sears back in March before the stock's latest crash. Sears long-time spokesman Howard Riefs didn't immediately respond to requests for comments on the company's cash position and whether vendors were tightening payment terms.
Once hot semiconductor stocks such as Micron (MU) continuing to lag the broader Nasdaq Composite
But perhaps it simply reflects the market adjusting to a 2019 of higher interest rates and coordinated slower global growth. That may be too deep a thought for that camp, but it's certainly possible.
Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker tells me the company will debut an autonomous electric shuttle on an undisclosed 'major' tech company's campus in mid-2019. My bet is Alphabet (GOOGL) given its push into autonomous with Waymo. A full podcast with Fisker will be out today, so stay tuned. And yes, we talked some Tesla (TSLA) and Elon Musk -- though I didn't want this to be a Musk chat fest. Fisker is probably one of the most decorated auto designers of our time, that you don't know about.
Tapestry (TPR) CEO Victor Luis told me the global company is all about free and fair trade. He doesn't expect much of an impact from the tariffs. Helping Tapestry's case is that under 5% of the company's products are made in China. Luis is best in class, but I do think Tapestry will feel some pressure from simply being dependent on the Chinese market to drive sales. For years the company has pushed into the country to capture the rising wealth effect among consumers. But if the trade war heats up, it's reasonable to expect a less robust stream of earnings from Tapestry's China operations.
Behind the scenes, I have exchanged a few fun emails with our founder Jim Cramer on the strength of the U.S. housing market. Redfin (RDFN) CEO's bearish comments last week on earnings day were concerning. I am about to run an interview on a giant industrial player that sounded a touch bearish on housing's momentum. And then there was Home Depot (HD) on Tuesday. Did you listen to that earnings call? It struck me as one setting the table for a slowdown in sales growth in 2019 amid a broader cooling in housing turnover. Home Depot did finish Tuesday's session down slightly.
Meanwhile, Cramer discusses why he bought more Amazon (AMZN) for the Action Alerts PLUS member club. Real Money's 'Stock of the Day' with good reason is Canopy Growth (CGC) . The cannabis play just snagged a $4 billion investment from liquor company Constellation Brands (STZ) .