Sears Breaks up Assets, Hints at Partial Sale

By Mike Caggeso
Associate Editor

Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) moved one step closer to selling individual units of its assets by dividing them up into independently operated businesses.

The reorganization, first reported Saturday in the Wall Street Journal, led the company to issue a statement confirming the strategy.

"We are introducing an organizational structure that provides operating businesses with greater control, authority and autonomy," the company said in a statement. "Each operating business unit will have a designated leader and an advisory group comprised of senior Sears Holdings executives to provide direction and oversee the business unit's performance."

Details beyond that - how many divisions, who would lead them, when the move would become official - weren't disclosed.

Sears is the parent company of several well-known brand names, including Sears department stores, K-Mart, Kenmore appliances, Craftsman tools, Lands End clothing and DieHard batteries.

Sales at/of each of those have been slowly chipped away by the company's vast array of competitors - from Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY) to The Home Depot Inc. (HD).

Faced with a very unstable economy and disappointing retail sales nationwide, selling any of its brands would create some much-needed revenue, as Sears is coming off one of its worse years ever - easily its worse since billionaire hedge fund manager Edward Lampert took controlling stake, 48%, in the company in March 2005. 

In late November, the suburban-Chicago-based company reported that third-quarter profit dropped 99% compared with the previous year. And last week, the company said that fourth quarter earnings per share (EPS) are expected to decline 35% to 51%.

"It seems to me this is more like asset management than brand management," Neil Stern, partner at McMillan Doolittle, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm, told the Chicago Tribune. "It would make it easier to sell the parts in pieces, but harder to run as a retail company."

News and Related Links:

  • Reuters:
    Edward Lampert