Sears And Victoria's Secret: Both Say Comebacks "In Store"
Eddie Lampert, Chairman of Sears and hedge fund king, has asked for Wall Street to think of him as the underestimated comeback quarterback of the Giants. So is Eddie Lampert the Eli Manning of retail?
Thursday, he told shareholders that they shouldn't count Sears out. The game is still on despite the fact that the discounter has capitulated marketshare to Wal-Mart and Target . And despite the fact that net income dropped 47 percent in the fourth quarter to $426 million dollars,down from $811 million last year. And despite the fact that same store sales dropped every quarter during which he has been Chairman.
At the end of this fourth quarter, earnings were $3.04 a share--six cents below the Street's consensus.
Lampert admits some bad plays--gross margins declined by more than a billion dollars from last year because management failed to account for an economic slowdown in their inventory expansion. Fundamentally though, Lampert thinks that Wall Street doesn't have its eye on the ball, "'it is generally not well understood or appreciated how much we have reduced our debt and pension obligations."
Another executive urging investors to change their focus on the brand: Victoria's Secret CEO Sharen Turney. "Too Sexy" isn't a reason typically given when companies miss Wall Street estimates. The CEO of Victoria's Secret (part of Limited Brands ) says product assortment that was too young and too sexy hurt store traffic. While the consumer spending slowdown hit sales, the product also didn't entice shoppers to part with cash. And while the PINK line--aimed at teens and college age girls--has been a money maker for VS, Turney said the focus of the overall brand has been too young.
The brand has moved too far from its heritage as a feminine and sexy collection to one that is sex saturated and poorly-constructed (the second part is my editorializing.) I agree with Turney's sentiments and have blogged about the same thing right here.
Let's hope the new Victoria's Secret is more La Perla mixed with Agent Provocateur than Fredericks of Hollywood!
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