On Thursday, shares of SearsHoldings (SHLD) closed up 6.55% after the company reported earnings. With that sort of price movement, one would expect revenue and earnings to have grown strongly. Oddly enough, revenue and earnings were down.
Sears reported revenue of $5.39 billion for the quarter, down from $5.88 billion during the same time last year. Earnings-per-share came in at a loss of $4.41, up from a loss of $2.85 a year ago. Wall Street was expecting revenue of $5.26 billion and EPS of a negative $3.20.
While part of the sales declines is due to the lower number of Sears and Kmart stores, Sears CEO Edward Lampert blamed weak results on the highly competitive retail environment. Sears currently competes with some big players both in brick-and-mortar locations like Walmart, Target, J.C. Penny and Macy's, as well as online with the likes of Amazon.
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So why is Wall Street rewarding the company? And are there better places for your investment money?
In the press release and during the conference call, management announced that it is exploring partnership opportunities for its brands Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard. All three of these brands have strong reputations and brand recognition. Furthermore, Sears is looking for more ways to expand its Sears Home Service business.
Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard all have value for Sears, but may not be quite enough to save the company. At the end of the most recent quarter, the company reported assets of $11.75 billion and liabilities of $13.53 billion.
Let's say Sears can sell Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard for reasonable prices and can pay down some debt. It will still have problems with its current business model of being a brick-and-mortar operation as everyone else is heading to the internet. Furthermore, Sears would then have less revenue generating assets.
Now let's assume Sears does partner to sell these brands. They would become even better assets, but would unlikely be enough to keep the company whole, as it stands today. That means more stores would need to be closed. More write-downs would need to be taken. All this would likely lead to a few more years of unprofitable operations.
With those sorts of prospects for a company, why anyone would go long Sears stock today or anytime in the future is a mystery.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held stock in Amazon.