Is It Time to Abandon Ship on Sears?

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Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) saw its shares take a step back early on Monday after it was announced that there would be a big change in its board of directors. Sears has been plagued by its corporate performance for a while now, and this change in the board begs the question whether it is time to abandon ship.

Specifically, Bruce Berkowitz will be stepping down from the board of directors, effective October 31, after a relatively short stint. He was elected to the board back on February 25, 2016.

Morningstar Fund Managers previously named Berkowitz the Domestic Equity Fund Manager of the Decade in 2010. However this may have been short-lived. Since 2011, Berkowitz’s fund Fairholme has lost about 90%.

When Berkowitz first joined the board, the stock jumped about 4% in reaction. But the story is different since then. During his time on the board, the stock has dropped 61%, including a 27% drop in 2017 alone.

It’s worth noting that Fairholme is the largest shareholder of Sears, owning about 27% of the float, as of June 29, 2017.

Edward S. Lampert, board chair and chief executive of Sears, commented:

On behalf of the board of directors and management, I want to thank Bruce for his long-term commitment and investment in Sears Holdings. His leadership, guidance and counsel as a board member have been invaluable to our company.

Berkowitz had this to say:

It has been a pleasure to serve on the board of Sears Holdings and work closely with Eddie and the rest of the leadership team. I wish the company and its associates all the best as Sears Holdings continues to execute on its strategic priorities.

Berkowitz is an equity fund manager and founded Fairholme Capital Management in 1997. He was formerly a senior portfolio manager at Lehman Brothers and a managing director of Smith Barney.

Berkowitz currently serves as the chief investment officer of Fairholme Capital Management, and he is the president and a director of Fairholme Funds.

Shares of Sears were down about 10% at $6.10 early Monday, with a consensus analyst price target of $4.00 and a 52-week range of $5.50 to $14.32.

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