Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



The Next Sears Spinoff Could Be a Great One

Amid the brutal profit performance in Sears Holdings' (NASDAQ: SHLD  ) last reported quarter, Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert quietly reminded investors that management is constantly considering non-operating business methods of increasing shareholder value. For the past few years, this has taken the form of spinoffs and asset sales, in addition to tapping the debt markets. As the company continues to try to turn around the retail business, more spinoffs and asset sales are likely to keep Sears' financial staying power. One of the pending segments to be disposed of is Sears Canada -- a somewhat unappealing business beyond real estate value. Another recently mentioned one is much more exciting: Sears Auto Centers.

The pitch
As opposed to many of Sears' operating businesses, the Auto Centers actually play into a growing industry. As vehicles get more technologically complicated, owners are more inclined to visit mechanic shops instead of pursuing do-it-yourself options. Sears Auto Centers already have a tremendous presence on the U.S. map with more than 700 locations. What's better is that the Auto Center strategy is in the midst of a shift to a franchised-based model -- in line with Sears' overall goal of becoming a less asset-intensive business.

A franchise model would allow Sears to do what it does best -- collect rent and royalties. The reason for a spinoff would be to shore up additional liquidity at Sears Holdings and allow the Auto Centers to operate even more independently from the department stores, though many are already stand-alone operations. In a business largely restrained by a sinking retail segment, the Auto Centers are profit centers.

A business you want to be in
Basic mechanic shops may sound like a relatively boring business to own, but tell that to Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP  ) . The auto part retailing giant has put a tremendous focus on building out a portfolio of mechanic shops to address what it says are quickly shifting industry trends. When the company made its $2 billion acquisition of General Parts, which made it the biggest auto parts provider in the nation, a big part of the strategy was the acquisition of nearly 1,400 Carquest locations -- repair shops. The commercial-repair segment now accounts for more than half of Advance Auto Parts' sales.

Advance Auto Parts has been a market darling for years, enjoying triple-digit gains over a five-year period, and holding a forward P/E of more than 15. Sears Auto Centers, a smaller business, but a pure play on the trend that Advance Auto Parts is pursuing, could command similar attention as a stand-alone business, before factoring in the benefits of a franchise-based model.

If a spinoff occurs, existing Sears Holdings investors would likely receive the distributions in a similar manner to the company's previous spinoffs. While it is not, in itself, a reason to buy Sears Holdings, special-situations investors should remain closely tuned in to the story.

Tune in to get rich from cable's demise
You know cable's going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple. 


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2014, at 3:08 PM, Stinkerbelle wrote:

    Wow! Almost 100% wrong about the Advance/CARQUEST thing. Advance purchased CARQUEST to gain market share in supplying products to the repair shops, not to operate repair shops. Advance as well as Autozone and O'Reilly's seek to increase their sales to the professional installer market because that is where the lion's share of the dollars are in the automotive aftermarket. (Some say as much as 85% versus 15% for the DIY segment)

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2984708, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/29/2015 3:45:31 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Michael Lewis

Michael is a value-oriented investment analyst with a specific interest in retail and media businesses. Before coming to the Fool, Michael worked with private investment funds focusing on deep value and special situations. Currently living in the media capital of the world--Los Angeles, California.

Today's Market

updated 6 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 1.21 0.06%
NASD 4,828.33 15.62 0.32%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

8/28/2015 4:00 PM
SHLD $27.30 Up +0.37 +1.37%
Sears Holdings CAPS Rating: *
AAP $176.48 Up +0.25 +0.14%
Advance Auto Parts… CAPS Rating: *****