Friday, August 21, 2009

Sears Slips On Surprise Loss in 2nd Quarter

. Friday, August 21, 2009

By stockOzone team

Shares of Sears Holdings Corporation fell 12 percent on Thursday in Nasdaq trading after the retailer reported an unexpected second-quarter loss.

Excluding some items, the loss was 17 cents a share. Analysts had projected profit of 35 cents, the average of six estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

Sales at Sears stores in the United States open at least 12 months declined 13 percent as consumers bought fewer washers, dryers, refrigerators and clothing, the company said in a statement. Same-store sales at Kmart, which is owned by Sears, fell 3.9 percent.

The retailer’s net loss was $94 million, or 79 cents a share, in contrast to a profit of $65 million, or 50 cents a share, a year earlier, the company said. Sales fell to $10.6 billion, from $11.76 billion in the year-ago quarter. The results were below the $10.7 billion average estimate of analysts.

Sears’s stock fell $8.76 on Thursday, or 12 percent, to $65. That was the biggest percentage decline since Dec. 1.

“The decline at Sears Domestic continues to be driven by categories impacted by housing market conditions,” including home appliances, the company said.

Separately, Gap Inc., operator of the Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, reported second-quarter profit that was little changed from a year ago.

Net income was $228 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with $229 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier, the company said Thursday in a statement. The retailer said on Aug. 6 that earnings would be 30 to 32 cents a share. Revenue fell 7.3 percent, to $3.25 billion, from $3.5 billion a year ago.

The company reduced operating expenses and inventory to make up for sales declines as consumers cut spending on clothes. Sales at stores open at least a year decreased 8 percent in the three months that ended Aug. 1.

“Our focus is to find the right balance between maintaining our cost discipline and making appropriate, targeted investments to gain back market share,” Glenn K. Murphy, Gap’s chairman and chief executive, said in the statement.

Comparable-store sales in North America dropped 4 percent at Old Navy, which sells the least expensive clothes of Gap’s three chains, less than the 16 percent decline a year earlier. They fell 10 percent at Gap stores and 15 percent at Banana Republic.

Separately, Aéropostale, the mall-based retailer aimed at the teenage market, said profit rose 83 percent, to $38.6 million, or 57 cents a share. Comparable-store sales advanced 12 percent in the three months ended Aug. 1, the company said in a statement.

Gap and Aéropostale reported earnings after markets had closed.

Gap shares rose 24 cents, to $18.85. Aéropostale gained 21 cents, to $35.88.

Disclosure: Author does not own any of the stocks discussed here.

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