Sears Shows That It May Never Be Profitable Again

Source: Jim Henderson, via Wikimedia Commons
Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) reported first-quarter 2014 results before markets opened on Thursday. The company posted an adjusted earnings per share (EPS) loss of $2.24 on revenues of $7.9 billion. In the same quarter a year ago, Sears posted an EPS loss of $1.36 on revenues of $8.5 billion. The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters called for an EPS loss of $1.87 on revenues of $7.71 billion.

On a GAAP basis the quarterly EPS loss totaled $3.79 compared with a loss of $2.63 in the same period a year ago.

U.S. same-store sales rose 0.2% in the first quarter, with sales falling 2.2% at Kmart stores. Same-store sales declined 1% overall.

Sears has completed the spin-off of Lands’ End business, for which it received gross proceeds of $500 million. The company also recently announced that it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its 51% stake in Sears Canada, which it says is valued at approximately $730 million. The company is also continuing to discuss options related to its Auto Center stores.

The company is also boasting about raising sales to members of its “Shop Your Way” loyalty program from 68% to 74% of eligible sales. Exactly how a loyalty program is going to rescue Sears from oblivion has never really been made clear, but the company continues to press hard on this.

Sears did not provide guidance in its earnings press release, but the consensus estimate calls for a second-quarter EPS loss of $1.87 on sales of $8.07 billion. In the second quarter of last year, the company posted an EPS loss of $1.70 on sales of $8.87 billion. Both numbers seem optimistic given first-quarter results. And as more pieces of Sears are sold off, the bits that are left will not interest many investors. We are watching an American icon slip into a coma.

Shares of Sears are trading down about 2.9% in Thursday’s premarket session in a 52-week range of $31.26 to $67.50. The consensus price target from Thomson Reuters is $20.00, from just two analysts.

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