Why Sears Holdings' Shares Popped


Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of retailer Sears Holdings (NAS: SHLD) caught a big tailwind today, surging as much as 22% in intraday trading after a series of announcements from the company.

So what: It doesn't take a full earnings report to get investors excited during earnings season -- a preliminary earnings report often does just as well. Sears' shares shot off like a rocket today on news that the company expects to turn a big profit in the first quarter. In a press release, Sears' said that first-quarter earnings per share will be in a range of $1.46-$1.84. While that sounds great, the profit was driven by $235 million in gains from sales of stores in the U.S. and Canada. Even after backing out that gain though, the company's first-quarter loss looks like it will still be narrower than the $1.69 that Wall Street had expected.

Now what: This could be another glimmer of hope for long-suffering Sears' shareholders. And along with the preliminary first-quarter results, the company also announced yesterday that it'd file some of the SEC paperwork associated with the spinoff of its Hometown and Outlet stores -- a move that will bring $400 million-$500 million to the parent company.

But what does it mean for the bigger picture? Same-store sales for the first quarter are still negative for both Sears and Kmart. Adjusted EBITDA -- a cash-flow measure -- is positive, but the bottom line is still in the red. As a retailer and operating company, Sears still looks like quite a wreck. As an investment vehicle though, there may still be hope from some investors that Eddie Lampert can make some magic happen.

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