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Sears’ Losses Spiral in Q3, Many More Stores to Close

If Sears is dying a slow death, it isn’t going down without a fight.

The 130-year-old retailer reported even steeper losses Thursday for its third quarter ended Oct. 29.

Net loss for the quarter hit $748 million, compared to a $454 million loss for the prior year period. Revenues fell $721 million to $5 billion, which Sears attributed to having fewer operating Sears and Kmart stores, as the closures accounted for nearly half of the decline. Those closures still haven’t helped Sears yield the promised profitability.

Still, the company’s loyal CEO Edward S. Lampert, has a positive outlook for the store.

“We remain fully committed to restoring profitability to our company and are taking actions such as reducing unprofitable stores, reducing space in stores we continue to operate (including through the Seritage lease arrangement), reducing investments in underperforming categories and improving gross margin performance and managing expenses relative to sales in key categories,” Lampert said in the earnings statement.

Comparable store sales at Kmart fell 4.4%, though the company said it was encouraged by a sales increase in apparel for the quarter. Comp sales at Sears fared much worse, falling 10 percent, led by decreases in the home appliances, apparel and consumer electronics categories. Sears is also looking at about $618 million in short-term debt and $3.7 billion in long-term debt.

Considering the state of sales at stores, many more will be on the chopping block, though the retailer did not disclose how many.

In other Sears news, Lampert—well known for loaning Sears money—proposed upping his stake in Sears Hometown if it evaluates alternatives for its Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands, plus its Sears Home Services business, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week.

The company’s chief financial officer Jason M. Hollar, said, “We will continue to take actions to generate liquidity, adjust our overall capital structure, and manage our business while meeting all of our financial obligations.”

Those actions may include, Hollar said, more expense reductions, financing transactions and asset monetization, including exploring alternatives (like letting Lampert up his stake) for the Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands, and its Sears Home Services business and real estate portfolio.