Sears Chairman Says Retailer Is Underestimated

Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert said Friday that much of Wall Street and the media have underestimated the strength of the retailer and the progress it has made.


Lampert's defense of the company, in a letter to employees, came one day after Sears posted a 99 percent drop in earnings and a 3 percent drop in revenue for the third quarter.

"We are one of the few retail companies that have actually reduced our overall debt levels while at the same time investing over $1 billion on capital expenditures, making investments in inventory for our customers, contributing significantly to our pension plans for our past and future retirees, and repurchasing over $3 billion of our shares," Lampert wrote in the letter, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Earnings Plunge

Sears reported sharply lower quarterly earnings Thursday, sending its shares down more than 13 percent, as sales fell at its U.S. Kmart and Sears stores and it cut prices to rid itself of excess inventory.

The company said sales and margins would probably remain under pressure for the current quarter, as the softer U.S. housing market and credit concerns hurt customer spending during the critical holiday shopping season.

Sears, which this week offered to buy specialty retailer Restoration Hardware for about $269 million, attributed its current woes to everything from increased competition to unseasonably warm weather.

Sears Holdings shares were more than 2 percent higher on Friday.