Icahn says he's 'taking a look' at bonds of bankrupt Sears

Key Points
  • Sears, once one of the nation's largest retailers, filed for bankruptcy early Monday morning.
  • "Maybe some of the bonds will be interesting," Carl Icahn said of Sears.
Carl Icahn
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Carl Icahn said he was looking at bonds of Sears, the classic American retailer that just filed for bankruptcy, but had yet to take a position.

"Obviously there's a lot of problems there and, you know, now it's in bankruptcy, and maybe some of the bonds will be interesting — we're taking a look at some of them," Icahn said Monday on CNBC's Halftime Report.

Sears, once one of the nation's largest retailers, filed for bankruptcy early Monday morning. Eddie Lampert stepped down as CEO, after leading the company for five years and personally investing billions of his own money into the sinking retailer.

It's not unusual for big investors like Icahn to look for opportunities in the debt of companies that have gone bankrupt in order to profit from asset sales, restructurings or if the company ever goes public again. Icahn has made bets on the debt of bankrupt or near-bankrupt companies in the past, including auto parts maker Federal Mogul, movie studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Tropicana Entertainment and Blockbuster.

"I know Eddie Lampert a little bit. He's a smart guy," Icahn added.

Sears will close 142 stores toward the end of this year, with liquidation sales expected to begin soon. Lampert merged Sears and Kmart in 2005, with the aim of creating a more stable discount retailer. But that didn't happen. Sears has remained in survival mode for more than a decade, spinning off businesses and selling real estate.

"I'm not going to second-guess what they did," Icahn said. "Obviously it didn't work, but that's what it is. We all have our downs. We all have our problems."

While the company once operated more than 3,500 locations across the U.S., Sears has about 700 stores still in business.

Sears was the Amazon of the 1930s. Here's where the retailer is today
Sears: The rise and fall of the iconic department store