Is This the Turnaround Sears Has Been Waiting For?

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When Sears Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) reported its fourth-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Wednesday, the struggling retailer posted $1.69 in earnings per share (EPS) on $4.38 billion in revenue. That compares with a net loss of $5.67 per share on $6.1 billion in the same period last year.

Net income attributable to shareholders was $182 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, which included a noncash tax benefit of roughly $470 million related to tax reform, as well as a noncash accounting charge of $72 million related to the impairment of the Sears trade name.

During the quarter, total comparable store sales declined 15.6%. Kmart comparable store sales declined 12.2%, while Sears comparable store sales declined 18.1%.

Sears operated a total of 1,002 stores at the end of the quarter, compared with 1,430 a year ago. Already this year, Sears announced it will be closing more than 100 additional stores by April. On Wednesday, though, the company said it will open more smaller concept stores later this year.

The company did not issue any guidance for the coming quarter, though consensus estimates call for a net loss of $1.69 per share on $3.39 billion in revenue.

At the end of the quarter, total cash balances were $336 million, including restricted cash of $154 million, compared to $286 million in the same period of last year.

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

We made progress in 2017, with a return to positive Adjusted EBITDA and another quarter of year-over-year improvement in our financial results. We also took the actions necessary to increase our liquidity and fund our ongoing transformation of the Company. In addition, we entered important partnerships, such as our agreement to sell Kenmore appliances and related services through Amazon, that broaden the reach of our brands. Finally, we continued to enhance our Shop Your Way ecosystem to offer our members more compelling and uniquely tailored value and shopping experiences.

Shares of Sears traded up more than 3% early Thursday at $2.50, with a consensus analyst price target of $2.00 and a 52-week range of $1.99 to $14.32.

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