Expert predicts a 'long, slow bleed' for Sears
Sears' dismal same-store sales announcement Thursday confirmed what many retail analysts have said for months: The company does not have a strategy in place to turn around years of declining sales, which showed an even bigger slide during the holiday season.
Before the announcement that comparable sales at the retailer's Kmart and domestic Sears stores were down 7.4 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter to date, Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, had said that the retailer had "underinvested" in stores for years and that its focus on the Shop Your Way rewards program is misguided.
"That doesn't seem like a turnaround-type strategy that will generate the kind of sales gains that they need," Perkins said. "It's going to be a long, slow bleed as they close underperforming stores and continue to spin off assets."
(Read more: Sales at Sears, Kmart take holiday nosedive)
Following news of its disappointing holiday 2013 declines, as well as its forecast for a fourth-quarter loss of $2.35 to $3.39 a share, Sears shares fell 13 percent Friday. The stock is down 80 percent since hitting its all-time high of $180.64 in April 2007.
In fourth-quarter 2012, Kmart stores posted a same-store sales drop of 3.7 percent, while domestic Sears stores ticked 0.8 percent higher.
Sears has closed about 300 U.S. stores since 2010, and announced last month that it would spin off its Lands' End apparel business. The company, which has not made money since 2010, said Thursday it has total cash of about $1 billion and availability under its credit facilities of $2.3 billion.
(Read more: Retailers must end consumer addiction to discounts)
Belus Capital Advisors analyst Brian Sozzi has been documenting Sears decline since October, using his Twitter feed and blog to show photographs of disorganized and improperly inventoried stores, and pointing out its increasing yields on company debt.
Sears went on the defensive, saying that Sozzi used "cheap shots" in his comments.
"Baby boomers across the U.S. be on alert—this is not only not your Sears from yesteryear, but it's a company that is headed down a path of extinction," Sozzi said Friday. "There is nobody else to blame for this long-term outlook but executive management, which has experienced rapid turnover in the ranks since Sears and Kmart were merged."
In a press release detailing its sales figures, Sears said that it is concentrated on growing its online presence and its rewards program. The company emphasized that 69 percent of sales in the nine weeks ended Jan. 4 were derived from rewards program members, compared with 8 percent last year.
(Read more: December sales rose, discounts hit profits)
"We believe that we are making progress in this transformation," the company said.
—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson. Follow her on Twitter @KrystinaGustafs. Reuters contributed to this report.