Sears Poor Company Earnings Report Might Speed Up Conversion to a REIT

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After last night’s dismal company earnings report, Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) does not appear to have many options left in its efforts to turn around the sinking ship. The company spun-off both its hometown and outlet stores, and half of its Canadian stores, into new companies. What is left is the Land’s End franchise Sears acquired in 2002, a few good brands like Kenmore and Craftsman, and a lot of real estate.

It is that real estate that now holds most of the firm’s value. In its earnings report, Sears claimed property, plant and equipment assets valued at $5.91 billion. The company’s market cap this morning, following a dive of 17% in its stock price, is less than $5.2 billion. There might be a lesson here.

Sears operates more than 2,500 retail locations in the United States and Canada, including its Kmart stores. In its annual 10-K filing for 2012, Sears put a value of $1.875 billion on its land, $6.1 billion on its buildings and improvements, and $347 million on capital leases. That could be a good start on converting the company to a REIT.

Sure Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) and General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP) would be many times larger, but at least Sears would be playing in a ballpark where it has a chance to compete. As it stands now, the company appears to headed for death by a thousand cuts.

Sears stock is down 16.6% in late morning trading, at $48.47 in a 52-week range of $38.40 to $68.77.