During the quarter, Sears closed on its anticipated real estate investment trust transaction with Seritage Growth Properties, through which Sears sold off 235 of its properties.
In addition to this deal, Sears struck up joint ventures with real estate firms General Growth Properties, Simon Property Group and Macerich, which apply to 31 additional properties.
Along with these moves, Sears executed an amendment and extension of a $3.275 billion domestic credit facility. As a result, the retailer said it expects that at the end of the quarter, it will have about $1.2 billion available under its domestic credit facility and $1.8 billion in cash. That compares to $200 million and $600 million a year ago, respectively.
"We have substantially enhanced our financial flexibility and achieved our objective of reducing our reliance on inventory as a source of financing," Sears said.
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The problem, however, is that performance at retail—which, in theory, should be the company's primary focus—continues to suffer. According to Retail Metrics data, Sears has not posted positive same-store sales results since first quarter 2010. Aside from that one reporting period, it hasn't happened in a decade.
Perkins said it looked as if the department store was starting to gain some traction at retail last year. In the third quarter, domestic same-store sales for its Sears and Kmart units fell just 0.1 percent. That followed a 0.8 percent decline in the second quarter, and a 1 percent drop in the first quarter.
In the fourth quarter, however, they slipped a more substantial 4.4 percent.
"Given the easy comparisons and the closures of underperforming stores..., which should make everything easier, they're still not able to generate a positive comp," Perkins said.
For its part, Sears said in its first-quarter earnings call that looking solely at its same-store sales does not provide the full picture.
"First, we are focused on restoring profitability to our Company and we have taken deliberate actions with respect to our promotional design and marketing spend in pursuit of this objective," the company said. "The result of these actions was that, in many categories, we saw an increase in profitability despite experiencing comparable store sales declines"