Sears (SHLD) Customers Hybernate, Buy-Back Eats Cash

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Sears (SHLD) spent all of its money on stock buy-backs, which leaves it low on cash.

Sears reported net income of $426 million, or $3.17 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended February 2, 2008, compared with net income of $811 million, or $5.27 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended February 3, 2007 For the quarter, domestic comparable store sales declined 4.5% in the aggregate, with Sears Domestic comparable store sales declining 4.0% and Kmart comparable store sales declining 5.2%.

For the quarter, total revenues decreased $1.1 billion to $15.1 billion for the 13 weeks ended February 2, 2008, as compared to total revenues of $16.2 billion for the 14 weeks ended February 3, 2007

We had cash and cash equivalents of $1.6 billion at February 2, 2008 (of which $743 million was domestic and $879 million was at Sears Canada) as compared to $3.8 billion at February 3, 2007, a decline of $2.2 billion. For the year, the significant uses of our cash included $2.9 billion for share repurchases.

That does not leave much extra cash to hold the company through another bad year.

Douglas A. McInyre