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What: Shares of Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) were looking stronger today, finishing up 12% after the retailer said it may spin off its Lands End and Auto Center franchises.
So what: This isn't the first time we've heard such a plan out of the aging retailer as last year it spun off part of its Canadian unit, and investors seem to see it primarily as an asset play. In a press release this morning, Sears said, "We are evaluating separating both our Lands End and Sears Auto Center businesses to become a more focused company that is easier to understand and to manage." The plans would be to spin off Lands End to current stockholders, making it a separate publicly traded company. The company also provided a guidance update, saying same-store sales had fallen 3.7% in the last 12 weeks, and it expects a net loss of as much as $582 million in the third quarter, worse than a year ago.
Now what: While there may be some hidden value in Sears' assets -- the company bought Lands End in 2002 for $1.9 billion -- the core of the company is still broken. Same-store sales have been declining for several quarters and management seems to have made little effort to revamp the central retailing part of the business, and may not be able to as the environment has changed with the rise of Amazon.com and others. Announcements like today's may be enough to boost the stock, but it seems like over the long term, with $4 billion in debt and other problems, Sears is headed for the dustbin.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.