On the brink: Sears keeps closing stores

Five years ago, Eddie Lampert was seen as the next Warren Buffett. Having gained control of bankrupt retailer Kmart Corp. in 2003, the businessman snapped up Sears. Roebuck & Co. for $11 billion.

Wall Street hailed the combination, expecting big things from Lampert. "Sears has its own $2.7 billion cash reserve that will grow as Lampert wrings inefficiencies out of the aging department-store chain," a 2004 BusinessWeek article gushed. "Lampert says the combination will save $300 million annually in costs and add $200 million to profits by promoting each chain's brands in the other's stores."