HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., Dec. 27, 2011 — Sears Holdings Corporation (“Holdings,” “we,” “us,” “our,” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: SHLD) today is providing an update on its quarter-to-date performance and planned actions to improve and accelerate the transformation of its business.
Comparable store sales for the eight-week (“QTD”) and year-to-date (“YTD”) periods ended December 25, 2011 for its Kmart and Sears stores are as follows:
Kmart’s quarter-to-date comparable store sales decline reflects decreases in the consumer electronics and apparel categories and lower layaway sales. Sears Domestic’s quarter-to-date sales decline was primarily driven by the consumer electronics and home appliance categories, with more than half of the decline in Sears Domestic occurring in consumer electronics. Sears apparel sales were flat and Lands’ End in Sears stores was up mid-single digits.
The combination of lower sales and continued margin pressure coupled with expense increases has led to a decline in our Adjusted EBITDA. Accordingly, we expect that our fourth quarter consolidated Adjusted EBITDA will be less than half of last year’s amount. For reference, last year we generated $933 million of Adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter ($795 million domestically and $138 million in Canada).
Due to our performance in 2011 we expect that we will record in the fourth quarter a non-cash charge related to a valuation allowance on certain deferred tax assets of $1.6 to $1.8 billion. Although a valuation adjustment is recognized on these deferred tax assets, no economic loss has occurred as the underlying net operating loss carryforwards and other tax benefits remain available to reduce future taxes to the extent income is generated. Further, we may recognize in the fourth quarter an impairment charge on some goodwill balances for as much as $0.6 billion. These charges would be non-cash and combined are estimated to be between $1.6 and $2.4 billion.
“Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model. These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail – at the store, online and in the home,” said Chief Executive Officer Lou D’Ambrosio. Specific actions which we plan to take include:
Close 100 to 120 Kmart and Sears Full-line stores. We expect these store closures to generate $140 to $170 million of cash as the net inventory in these stores is sold and we expect to generate additional cash proceeds from the sale or sublease of the related real estate. Further, we intend to optimize the space allocation based on category performance in certain stores. Final determination of the stores to be closed has not yet been made. The list of stores closing will be posted at www.searsmedia.com when final determination is made.
Excluding the effect of store closures, we currently expect to reduce 2012 peak domestic inventory by $300 million from the 2011 level of $10.2 billion at the end of the third quarter as a result of cost decreases in apparel, tighter buys and a lower inventory position at the beginning of the fiscal year.
Focus on improving gross profit dollars through better inventory management and more targeted pricing and promotion.
Reduce our fixed costs by $100 to $200 million.
In addition to the specific store closures listed above, we will carefully evaluate store performance going forward and act opportunistically to recognize value from poor performing stores as circumstances allow. While our past practice has been to keep marginally performing stores open while we worked to improve their performance, we no longer believe that to be the appropriate action in this environment. We intend to accentuate our focus and resources to our better performing stores with the goal of converting their customer experience into a world-class integrated retail experience.
We currently expect the store closure and inventory reduction actions to reduce peak inventory in 2012 by $500 to $580 million and reduce our peak borrowing need by $300 to $350 million in 2012 from levels that may have resulted in 2012 without such actions.
At December 23rd, we had $483 million of borrowings outstanding on our domestic revolving credit facility leaving us with over $2.9 billion of availability on our revolving credit facilities ($2.1 billion on our domestic facility and $0.8 billion on our Canadian facility). There were no borrowings outstanding last year at this time.
During the fourth quarter through December 23, 2011, we have not repurchased any of our common shares under our share repurchase program. As of December 23, 2011, we had remaining authorization to repurchase $524 million of common shares under the previously approved programs.
Fourth Quarter Earnings Release
The company currently plans to release financial results for its fiscal 2011 fourth quarter and full year on or about February 23, 2012, before the market opens.
Results are preliminary and unaudited. This press release contains forward-looking statements about our expectations for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release also include statements about the expected range of the valuation allowance on certain deferred tax assets, the possible recognition of an impairment on some goodwill balances, various initiatives to reduce expenses, adjust our asset base, generate cash and transform our business model and the impact of such initiatives. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of our management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: our ability to offer merchandise and services that our customers want, including our proprietary brand products; our ability to successfully implement various initiatives, including reducing expenses, successfully closing stores, including liquidating related inventory at expected mark-down levels and selling or subleasing such stores on acceptable terms, improving inventory management and other capabilities; customer acceptance of our integrated retail model; impairment charges for goodwill and intangible assets or fixed-asset impairment for long-lived assets and the results of the second step of the goodwill impairment test process described in the “Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” in Note 1 to our Consolidated Financial Statements contained in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for fiscal year 2010; competitive conditions in the retail and related services industries; worldwide economic conditions and business uncertainty, the availability of consumer and commercial credit, changes in consumer confidence, tastes, preferences and spending, and changes in vendor relationships; the impact of seasonal buying patterns, including seasonal fluctuations due to weather conditions, which are difficult to forecast with certainty; our dependence on sources outside the United States for significant amounts of our merchandise; our extensive reliance on computer systems to process transactions, summarize results and manage our business; our reliance on third parties to provide us with services in connection with the administration of certain aspects of our business; our ability to attract, motivate and retain key executives and other associates; the outcome of pending and/or future legal proceedings, including product liability claims and proceedings with respect to which the parties have reached a preliminary settlement; and the timing and amount of required pension plan funding. We intend the forward-looking statements to speak only as of the time made and do not undertake to update or revise them as more information becomes available.
About Sears Holdings Corporation
Sears Holdings Corporation is the nation’s fourth largest broadline retailer with over 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada. Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, consumer electronics and automotive repair and maintenance. Sears Holdings is the 2011 ENERGY STAR® Retail Partner of the Year. Key proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard, and a broad apparel offering, including such well-known labels as Lands’ End, Jaclyn Smith and Joe Boxer, as well as the Apostrophe and Covington brands. It also has the Country Living collection, which is offered by Sears and Kmart. We are the nation’s largest provider of home services, with more than 11 million service calls made annually. Sears Holdings Corporation operates through its subsidiaries, including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Corporation. For more information, visit Sears Holdings’ website at www.searsholdings.com. Twitter: @searsholdings | Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SHCCareers