Tallahassee Journal

Sears loss narrows; plans REIT rights offering launch

Sears loss narrows; plans REIT rights offering launch

Sears reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on Monday, but revenue was lower than forecast as its Kmart chain and Sears department stores discounted less. The company, which plans to spin off about 235 stores into a real estate investment trust (REIT), said it expected to launch a rights offering to buy shares in the REIT on Friday. The offering is expected to raise $2.6 billion, Sears said.In Tepid Holiday Season, Sales of Sears Fell 9.2 Percent

This, along with the three joint venture deals Sears signed in April with mall operators to sell and lease back other stores, will help raise more than $3 billion, the company said. “We expect to utilize a portion of the proceeds from the REIT transaction to pay down our existing revolver borrowings,” Chief Financial Officer Rob Schriesheim said in a statement. Three of Sears’ asset-based lenders agreed to extend the company’s $3.23 billion credit facility to 2020, the company said. The facility was set to expire next April.

The company also said it was in talks with its broader lender group to close its debt refinancing in the current quarter with an extended facility of about $2 billion maturing in 2020 and the remaining $1.28 billion of existing asset-based facility in place until next April. These are the latest in a series of steps Chief Executive Eddie Lampert has taken to shore up the finances of the retailer, which has struggled to grow sales amid tough competition from other department stores, mass-retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores and home improvement chains including Home Depot.

Sears, which has been closing stores and slashing costs to return to profitability, reported its 12th straight quarterly loss on Monday. Net loss attributable to Sears shareholders narrowed to $303 million, or $2.85 per share, in the quarter ended May 2, from $402 million, or $3.79 per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, Sears posted earnings of $2.00 a share.

Revenue fell 25.3 percent to $5.88 billion. Comparable sales at U.S. stores declined 10.9 percent in the quarter. Wall Street expected Sears to post a quarterly loss of $2.59 per share on revenue of $6.08 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. Shares of Sears moved higher in premarket trading following the announcement. The company’s stock has surged in 2015, rising about 23 percent. Nevertheless, it has seen its fare share of problems recently.

On June 2, Sears shareholders filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging that the proposed sale to its REIT has been designed to benefit CEO Eddie Lampert and would avail the company of its profitability. The sale was announced April 1 and is expected to be finalized this month.