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Is the End is Near for Sears?

Here's Why Sears Holdings Finally Admitted the End May Be Near
The company has a plan, but it's fraught with peril.

Daniel B. Kline (TMFDankline)
Mar 23, 2017 at 9:56AM
© 1995 - 2017 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved.
Source; drill down for hyperlinked references; excerpts follow:


"Always look on the bright side of life" and "Stay optimistic" make for nice T-shirt or greeting card sentiments, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rules that prevent public companies from letting optimism cloud their financial reporting.

It was because of those regulations that Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD), the parent company of Sears and Kmart, had to make what's known as a "going concern" disclosure in its recent annual report. That's an official statement that the company believes it may not survive the coming year…

Sears, which had delivered an optimistic report on its revival efforts in mid-February, has seen its financial situation deteriorate to the point it had to issue what amounts to an official warning it may run out of money. In that March 21 SEC filing, the company acknowledged that its "historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern." While expressing optimism that the plans it has in the works could provide the money it needs, the chain also acknowledged that if it continues to experience operating losses (and there are very few reasons to expect it won't) and it can't sell off or leverage assets as planned, that it may not be able to secure funds needed to operate.

It's important to note that issuing a going concern notice does not guarantee a company will go out of business. Sears Holdings does have assets and real estate that could potentially generate the billions it needs to fund its losses and transformation, but this disclosure admits something Sears would rather not have to say publicly -- that its plans may not work and they are fairly tenuous in the first place…

Read full editorial.

I like Sears; I really do. There's one right here in my town that I've been visiting for many years; it's a longtime anchor store at the nearest mall. True, I was disappointed to learn that they spun off their Craftsman tool line, but c'mon: Kenmore! DieHard! $9.99 polo shirts! What's not to like?!

No matter how storied, things are tough for brick-and-mortar retailers, and the situation is not likely to improve. Amazon drones are flying in formation, coming to a neighborhood near you. The several Sears purchases I make per year won't make a whit of difference.

This is business; adapt or die.

2 Comments On This Entry

Dang. Our Sears upright freezer will be 43 years old this summer. We bought it in Norfolk, VA when my daughter was about six months old. It has been coast to coast and up and down the west coast with us, back to South Dakota and another move after that. That baby is still going strong, needs defrosting once in a great while, but that's it. Makes me sad. Like my sewing machine, still going strong. It was bought at Montgomery Ward in Bremerton, WA in the early 80s. They just don't make things like they used to and the stores that sell them are going away. And like you, the few things I buy a year won't make a whit of difference. But it still makes me sad.
I didn't know they spun off Craftsman, but I stopped buying Craftsman years ago - I got tired of Sears always being 'out' of the exact socket or wrench that I needed.

Kenmore? Meh, ain't nothin' but a label.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET, from having once owned an appliance repair business: You can decode the Part Number (Not the model number like "Series 700" etc but the actual part number like "123.123456789". The first three digits before the period tell who REALLY made it.

A few of the more common ones:

Low End:

183.xxxxxxxx Haier (Refrigerators, freezers)
405 Guongdong Midea (Guongdong, China)(Microwaves)
461 Foshan Shunde Midea (Foshan, China) Dishwashers
564 to 567 Sanyo (Microwaves, mostly)
721 formerly Goldstar a/k/a Lucky Goldstar now LG (Microwaves)
795 LG (Laundry)


106,110,154,198, too many others to list. Whirlpool. By far their largest single OEM for Appliances.

Of course, since mid '00s, Whirlpool+Maytag+Amana+Admiral+Magic Chef = "Maycor". The labels still exist but hard to tell who actually makes what anymore. Probably ALL made in the same plant in Goungdong China.

119, 236, 790, 791, various others. Frigidaire. Probably their second-largest OEM.

These days Frigidaire = Roper+White+Tappan+Kelvinator (And I'm so old I can remember having a refrigerator that said "Kelvinator a Division of General Motors". You might be even older if you can remember (pre-'68)"Kelvinator a Division of American Motors") Frigidaire itself is now part of Electrolux of Sweden but generally the Electrolux name is used for high-end and Frigidaire for all else.

Upper End:

336 Electrolux (Various)
629 Jenn Air (Stoves)
630 Bosch (Dishwashers)

IMHO, beginning of the end for Sears: Buying "Land's End". Big mistake and the didn't know what do with it. And it starved them of the cash they needed to do Craftsman right.


TWO scenarios:

Before :) Guy like me goes into Sears because I need a metric left-handed water hammer. They've GOT one, the only place in town that does. While I'm there I see all else they've got and go home with a new hammer, a table saw, a dishwasher, and a television.

After ;) Guy like me goes into Sears because I need a simple 9/16" wrench. Gee, they're out of that size. After I drove across town. I walk out of the store in a huff, don't even care what ELSE they've got.

Take away Craftsman, and Sears is just another JC Penney or Monkey Wards.

LAND'S END: SEARS ALSO JUST DIDN'T "Get it". Good stuff but PART of the cachet was being exotic, you could only get it via catalogue mail-order. A poor-man's "Abercrombie and Fitch" (tho A&F is another topic in itself). L.L. Bean on a budget.

Groundswell: Lands End vs. L.L. Bean: What’s the Real Difference? because, ewww, ANYONE can just walk into Sears and buy that?
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