Things aren't getting any better at Sears — in fact, they're getting worse.
The once-venerable department store chain on Thursday reported a wider third-quarter loss than the prior-year period as sales continued to slide.
The results were the latest indication that revenue and operating performance at the iconic retailer continue to deteriorate, despite its efforts to get rid of underperforming stores, lessen its dependence on categories that are struggling in its shops and make money from its real estate footprint.
"In the movie 'Titanic,' there is a line where, realizing chaos is about to ensue, one character helpfully notes, 'It's starting to fall apart. We don't have much time,'" Conlumino analyst Neil Saunders said. "Such a sentiment could well be applied to Sears. The analogy with 'Titanic' is also apt; not least because while Sears was once a titan of U.S. retail, it now looks set to sink."
Sears, which has reported just two profitable quarters since April 2012, lost an adjusted $3.11 a share during the quarter ended Oct. 29. That compares with a loss of $2.98 one year ago.
Revenue fell 13 percent to $5.03 billion. The Thomson Reuters consensus forecast, which includes just one analyst, had called for Sears to report a loss of $4.06 a share on $4.95 billion in revenue.
Sales at its established stores declined 7.4 percent, including a 4.4 percent dip at Kmart and a 10 percent drop at Sears. That was slightly worse than the 5.3 percent decrease that was expected.
The stock fell slightly lower in late morning trade.
In a news release outlining its results, Sears CEO Eddie Lampert reiterated that the company remains "fully committed to restoring profitability to our company." He also addressed criticisms the company has faced from outsiders, saying he understands their concerns regarding Sears' continued operating losses.
"While many observers have acknowledged the significant asset base of our company, we understand the concerns related to our operating performance and are committed to transforming our company through our Shop Your Way membership program and our integrated retail investments," he said.
But Saunders countered that none of these efforts have led to better results.
"On the contrary, the trends have worsened with the weakest comparable performance so far this year," he said, adding that the retailer's losses also continue to widen. Sears' adjusted results exclude items including closed store and severance charges, and pension expenses.