Sears Suffers Huge Quarterly Loss

Sears Holdings Corporation, the retailer operated by Edward Lampert a hedge fund manager, posted a loss for the fourth quarter of $358 million, as investments in its operations online and a new rewards program did not boost its holiday sales.

The loss for the quarter that ended February 1 narrowed from $489 million or $4.61 per share to $3.38 per share. The company based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois announced on Thursday that revenue had dropped by 14% to end the quarter at $10.6 billion.

Lampert, who one year ago took the reins of CEO, has invested in the digital capacity of the company and its rewards program Shop Your Way to reverse the company’s decline in sales that has stretched on for a run of 28 consecutive quarters.

He looked to shrink the store base of the company and in January announced it would close down its downtown location in Chicago that was losing money, saying that less square footage is needed today by retailers.

Sears stock was up by over 3.5% on Wednesday to close the day at $40.40. However, shares have fallen by 18% in 2014, compared to a drop in the S&P 500 Index of just 0.2%.

Lampert has control of 48% of the shares at Sears and said in an annual letter to all investors that the digital investments at the company might pay off during this year, as their customers use their services such as merchandise pickup at a drive thru.

The loss suffered by Sears was at the higher range of the $250 million to $360 million that the company had forecasted in January. Sales at their stores that have been opened 13 months or longer, fell by 7.8% at Sears locations in the U.S. At its Kmart locations countrywide, there was a decline of 5.1% for a companywide decline of 6.4%.

Sears has cut its peak inventory by over $620 million for this year, which is $120 million more than its goal of $500 million and has reduced its expenses by over $200 million.

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