News Column

Sears Expected to Show Smaller 3Q Loss

Nov 15, 2012

Corilyn Shropshire

Sears

Sears Holdings Corp. will report third quarter earnings Thursday after the market closes and host a rare conference call with analysts and media.

The Hoffman Estates-based retailer is expected to narrow its losses to $230 million, or $2.16 per share on sales of $8.58 billion, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg.

During the same period last year, Sears lost $421 million, or $3.95 per share, as lower sales of appliances and consumer electronics at Sears' U.S. stores and of clothing, prescription drugs and home goods at Kmart hurt the company's overall performance.

This is good news for the struggling Sears which has sputtered for years and worked to get its financial house in order by shrinking inventory and debt and enhancing liquidity. It's also shuttered some stores, spruced up others, and on Wednesday, completed the spin-off if a large stake in its Canadian operation to shareholders.

Earlier this year, Sears spun-off its Hometown and Outlet stores raising $446.5 million.

Retail watchers predict that in the quarter that ended Sears is likely to benefit from J.C. Penney's losses, as consumers balk at the Dallas-based department store's strategy to opt for consistently low prices over sales -- b ut just how much remains to be seen.

"We believe Sears can post, for them, relatively strong results," Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter wrote in a note earlier this week.

Still Sears faces a "tougher appliance landscape going forward," Balter said, as appliance rival Home Depot is also selling Whirlpool.

That the elusive retailer is holding a conference call at all, has generated some buzz among retail watchers. "Why would it be doing one if it had bad results to report?" Balter wrote in his report.

Sears will announce earnings on the same day as rivals Walmart and Target, which are also expected by Wall Street analysts to deliver positive results.

Sears shares were up more than 2 percent in early trading on Thursday morning at $59.61. The stock closed down more than two percent on Wednesday at $58.42.



Source: (c)2012 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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