Investors Cheer $200 Million Loan to Sears

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In a federal filing Monday, Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) revealed that the company had received a $200 million line of credit from companies controlled by Sears Chairman and CEO Edward S. Lampert. The line of credit carries an annual fixed interest rate of 9.75% and has a maturity of 151 days.

Earlier this year Sears reached an agreement with its lenders that postponed a $100 million payment due this month until July of next year and a separate pension liability agreement that annuitizes some $515 million of the company’s pension obligations.

So far this year the company has announced plans to close around 250 Sears, Kmart, and Sears Auto Center stores and has sold its Craftsman brand in an effort to remain a viable company.

Regarding Monday’s announced line of credit, Sears CFO Rob Riecker said in a statement reported by CNBC:

This facility is intended to provide the Company with the flexibility to generate additional liquidity on an as-needed basis. This adjustment to our capital structure demonstrates that Sears Holdings will continue to take actions to generate liquidity and manage our business while meeting all of our financial obligations.

As long as CEO Lampert and his hedge fund are willing to finance the company’s unsecured debt, some investors will continue to buy the stock. Of course, Lampert’s hedge fund is not a charity and he could pull the plug on further lending at a moment’s notice.

Closing stores does help contain costs, but it also takes a toll on the top line. Profits may improve, but generating sufficient cash flow to meet the company’s obligations gets harder, making borrowing even more important. It’s a vicious circle that takes a long time to escape from.

For Monday, though, Sears is enjoying a boost of more than 8% in its share price to $8.72 shortly after the noon hour. The stock’s 52-week range is $5.50 to $18.18 and the 12-month consensus price target is $4.

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