Sears shares jump on news it will sell assets

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer says it plans to spin off its Sears Hometown and Outlet stores, along with some hardware stores, in a rights offering to shareholders that could raise $500 million.

February 23, 2012

By Ashley Gross

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Sears plans to spin off its Outlet and Hometown stores and some hardware stores into a new company.

For once, some good news for people who own stock in Sears Holdings Corporation. No, the company still isn’t profitable, but it’s raising cash by selling off some assets.
Shares in the company jumped almost 20 percent after Sears said it’s raising cash – as much as three quarters of a billion dollars.

The long struggling retailer is doing that by spinning off some stores into a separate company and selling 11 other stores to General Growth Properties.

Morningstar analyst Paul Swinand says the company is trying assuage fears that it's going to go bankrupt.

"They’re sort of rattling their sabers a little bit in showing that they can raise money through asset sales," Swinand said.

The news that Sears is raising cash helped to blunt some pretty horrible news about its fourth quarter. Chief Executive Lou D’Ambrosio didn't mince words about the company's results on a conference call.

"Our fourth-quarter earnings were unacceptable," D'Ambrosio said. "We know that and are taking immediate action to address it."

Sears lost $2.4 billion, more than $22 a share, in the quarter. According to Bloomberg, it was the company’s biggest loss in almost a decade.