Sears Holdings Corp. has forecast a decrease in comparable-store sales at its namesake Sears stores and Kmart discount stores for the first quarter.

Sears Holdings, Kmart, Sears, discount store, same-store sales, comparable-store sales, first quarter, 2011 first quarter, net income, net loss, adjusted EBITDA, comparable-store sales decrease

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Sears warns of same-store sales decline

May 3rd, 2011

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Sears Holdings Corp. has forecast a decrease in comparable-store sales at its namesake Sears stores and Kmart discount stores for the first quarter.

The retailer said late Monday that it expects domestic same-store sales for the first quarter ended April 30 to decline 1.6% at Kmart and 5.2% at Sears stores. Overall, comparable-store sales are projected to decrease 3.6% for the quarter.

The guidance, which came after the market close on Monday and in advance of Sears' annual shareholder meeting on May 3, sent the company's stock price tumbling to about $76.50 as of midday trading on Tuesday after closing at $84.18 the day before.

"Our domestic comparable-store sales decrease was primarily driven by appliances, apparel and consumer electronics," Sears said in a statement released late Monday. "Appliances, which had the most notable decline, benefited in the prior year from the Cash for Appliances rebate programs in the quarter. Apparel experienced slow spring/summer sales due in part to worse weather than the prior year. Sears' home, sporting goods, jewelry and footwear categories continued to generate comparable-store sales growth during the quarter.

The company noted that starting with the 2011 first quarter, it now includes online sales from and shipped direct to customers in comparable-store sales.

"This change resulted in a positive benefit of approximately 50 basis points to total domestic comparable-store sales for the quarter," Sears stated. "We continue to invest in our multichannel capabilities to take advantage of sales as they convert from traditional sources to the Internet. During the quarter, our Internet sales on and shipped directly to customers (as opposed to picked-up in store) increased 22.4%."

In addition, the company said Sears Canada expects to report a same-store sales decline of 9.2% for the first quarter.

Sears also forecast a net loss for the 2011 first quarter along with decreased adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) versus a year earlier.

The company said it expects a first-quarter 2011 net loss attributable to Sears Holdings shareholders of $145 million to $195 million, or $1.35 to $1.81 per diluted share, compared with net income attributable to Sears Holdings shareholders of $16 million, or 14 cents per diluted share, in the 2010 quarter.

Total adjusted EBITDA for the 2011 first quarter is slated to come in at $25 million to $105 million in the first quarter, down from $304 million a year ago.

Sears added that during the first quarter, it repurchased 1.2 million of shares of its common stock for $101 million, an average price of $81.61 per share, under its share repurchase program. The company's board also approved the repurchase of up to an additional $500 million of common shares, in addition to the $86 million of shares that remain available for repurchase under the existing buyback program.