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Aug 21, 2014

Sears posts loss for 9th straight quarter as sales fall again

Retail chain may close more than the 130 stores slated for closure this year
    
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(Reuters) — Sears Holdings Corp, owner of Sears department stores and the Kmart discount chain, reported its ninth straight quarterly loss as sales continued to shrink, sending its shares down five per cent in light premarket trading.

The company, controlled by hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert, said quarterly revenue fell 9.7 per cent, reflecting the impact of the separation of its Lands' End clothing business, store closures and sales declines at Sears Canada Inc.

Same-store sales fell 1.7 per cent at Kmart stores in the United States in the second quarter. Sears had 2,302 stores in the country as of Aug. 2, of which 1,077 were Kmarts.

The company's sales have been falling since 2005 amid stiff competition from retailers such as Target Corp, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Home Depot Inc. Online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc have also eaten into the company's customer base.

Sears has closed about 300 stores since 2010 in an attempt to turn around its business.

The company has also been trying to sell its 51 per cent stake in Sears Canada, which reported its ninth loss in 14 quarters on Wednesday.

Sears said on Thursday it continued to explore with Bank of America Merrill Lynch a sale of its stake in Sears Canada or the sale of the entire Canadian company. SearsCanada had a market value of about $1.5 billion as of Wednesday.

Sears also said it might close more than the 130 stores it had earlier planned to shut this year.

The loss attributable to the company's shareholders widened to $573 million, or $5.39 per share, in the second quarter ended Aug. 2 from $194 million, or $1.83 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue declined to $8.01 billion from $8.87 billion.

Excluding items, Sears posted a loss of $3.00 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of $2.63 per share and revenue of $8.13 billion.

Sears shares were down at $34 before the bell. Up to Wednesday's close, the stock had fallen 5.8 per cent this year.

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