Department Stores

Shares of Sears fall to record low as CEO Lampert's hedge fund eyes Kenmore

Key Points
  • Sears shares hit a new all-time low of $1.27.
  • Earlier in the week, Sears CEO Eddie Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, said it would buy the Kenmore brand from Sears for $400 million in cash, should it secure additional financing.
  • Sears' stock has fallen 84 percent over the past 12 months, bringing the retailer's market cap to about $144 million.
A worker holds a sign announcing a store-closing sale outside the 60-year-old Sears store in Chicago.
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Shares of Sears Holdings tumbled as much as 13 percent Friday, skidding to a record low after the company disclosed earlier in the week that a hedge fund owned by CEO Eddie Lampert offered to buy the troubled retailer's Kenmore appliance division for $400 million.

The shares slid to an intraday low of $1.27 a share before closing at $1.32.

Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, also made an offer to buy Sears' Home Improvement business for as much as $80 million in cash, both companies said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

ESL said it needs to find other equity financing from someone else but has been in discussions with potential investors and is confident it can secure financing to close the deal.

"We are prepared to move as quickly as possible to complete these transactions, which is in the best interest of all parties involved," a spokesman for ESL told CNBC earlier in the week.

The SEC filing from ESL also said the hedge fund is exploring options to sell "all or portions of" Sears' remaining real estate: "We believe such a transaction could accelerate, and provide Sears with greater certainty than, its existing real estate divestiture efforts."

Sears has been shedding assets, including its real estate and the Craftsman tool brand, over the years to come up with cash and keep the company afloat. While it's sales are deteriorating, the retailer is still testing new concepts like stand-alone mattress stores and combined Sears and Kmart locations. Lampert has also used his hedge fund vehicle to loan Sears money to pay off debt.

Sears' stock has fallen 84 percent over the past 12 months, bringing the retailer's market cap to about $144 million. Amazon, for comparison, has a market cap of more than $910 billion. Department store chain J.C. Penney's stock also hit an all-time low this week of $1.60 on the heels of its dismal quarterly earnings report.

A representative from Sears declined to comment on this story.

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