No new news to report on Sears (SHLD) -- I just want to remind people that the retail chain will be dead in your lifetime.
The dispute with Whirlpool (WHR) reinforces several things about the owner of Sears and Kmart. First, Sears' majority shareholder and CEO Eddie Lampert may go down as one of the worst CEOs of all-time. He has done the complete opposite of any of the advice a good management book offers up. With Whirlpool, he is willing to cut ties with a brand that Sears customers actually trust because of an alleged pricing issue. Those remaining loyal customers will now head off to Home Depot (HD) or Lowe's (LOW) if they weren't already buying their dishwashers (and soon their Craftsman tools) at those stores because of Sears' increasingly bad customer service.
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Secondly, news of this fashion will likely increase in intensity over the next year as suppliers get concerned about Sears' financial position. Said financial position will probably look even more horrendous after this holiday season as sales tank because people will be shopping on Amazon (AMZN) and at Walmart (WMT) . As the worries on cash flow ramp up, Sears will likely get swept into the same vortex of other defunct retail concepts.
The day of reckoning is coming quick for Sears and Lampert, and it will be one of the biggest stories of perhaps 2018. But hey, what do I know ... I've only covered this train wreck for the last 12 years.
This Is a Joke, Right?
Listen, I get that well-paid execs are tasked with hyping up their businesses. Just get any CEO in the room and it would seem global growth is at 10% and the average company is growing earnings by 1,000% every single quarter. But sometimes, you just have to call out execs for pure ridiculousness. Today's verbal whipping is for AT&T's (T) Chief Financial Officer John Stephens, who seems to think the vicious trend of cord-cutting will abate in the fourth quarter. Dude, stop it. You see those Netflix (NFLX) results from a couple weeks ago? Cord-cutting isn't going to slow down, it's going to get WORSE (thanks to the big players investing in original programming and societal trends) and continue to hammer traditional TV players such as AT&T and Verizon (VZ) .
Ridiculous. Sell these TV stocks and start pondering a position in beat up General Electric (GE) into its November investor day. The news will be ugly for GE well into 2018, but what we are beginning to witness now may be a once-in-a-lifetime buying opportunity into a legendary business that will look different five years out (but in a good way).
Former Apple (AAPL) Sculley on the FANG trade.
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