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Sears OKs New Buyback

It authorizes $500 million after a $1 billion program is nearly used up.
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authorized another $500 million stock buyback Wednesday, saying a previous $1 billion program is nearly exhausted.

Sears closed Tuesday at $131.68. At that price, $500 million would buy about 3.8 million of Sears' 156.7 million outstanding shares. Since initiating a share repurchase program in September 2005, Sears said, the company has bought back 8.1 million shares at an average price of $120.86.

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Five analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expect Sears to earn $7.41 a share, on average, in the year ending next January. Sears, which reported $4.4 billion of cash and equivalents at Jan. 28, would be paying 17.8 times that estimate if it bought shares back at Tuesday's close.

The company said the shares will be purchased in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions, with the timing dependent on prevailing market conditions, alternative uses of capital and other factors.

The stock added $2.22, or 1.7%, to $133.90.