The company, operator of Sears department stores and the Kmart
discount chain, has been selling or spinning off assets and closing
stores for the past few years to try to turn around its business.
Sales have been dropping since Lampert combined Sears and Kmart in
an $11 billion deal in 2005.
The billionaire hedge fund manager, who took over as chief executive
in February, has been criticized for not investing enough in the
business, which has earned a reputation for dowdy merchandise and
poor service compared to Wal-Mart Stores Inc <WMT.N> and Target Corp
Sears shares were slightly down on Friday afternoon after rising as
much as 4 percent in early trading.
"... The spinoff announcement essentially points to a number of
negatives, including an inability to find a buyer, as previously
Lands' End was listed as an asset that the company would monetize,"
Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter wrote in a note to clients.
The New York Post reported in March 2012 that Lampert was exploring
a sale of Lands' End. Lampert later told investors that while he was
not actively looking for a buyer, there was always a possibility the
business could be "separated."
When asked if the spinoff pointed to its inability to find a buyer
for the business, a Sears spokesman referred to a company statement
in late October.
The company said then that any separation, if pursued, would not be
structured as a sale but rather through a transaction that would
allow shareholders to benefit from the significant potential for
The spinoff will not raise cash for Sears but will allow Lampert to
more efficiently chart a course for the two businesses, which
compete for management time and capital within the Sears group.
"Sears is in a steady state of decline," said Brian Sozzi, chief
executive of Belus Capital Advisors. "They're essentially selling
their body parts so they stay alive today."
Apart from losing market share to Wal-Mart and Target, Sears is
facing increased competition from online retailers.
Sears spun off its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores unit in 2011 and
its Sears Hometown and Outlet business last year.
In October, the company sold some Canadian real estate assets for
$383 million and said it was considering separating Lands' End and
its auto center business.
Sears had cash and cash equivalents of $599 million as of November
2, down from $671 million on August 3.
"... This spinoff is another wooden block being pulled out in our
Jenga scenario, with Lands' End likely the most profitable piece
that was left in the company," Balter said, referring to a game in
which players pull blocks from a stack until the stack collapses.
LOSING SOME CACHET
Lands' End sells casual clothing, accessories, footwear, and home
products online, through catalogs and in stores.
Competitors include Eddie Bauer LLC and L.L. Bean Inc as well as
department stores such as J.C. Penney Co Inc <JCP.N>.
[to top of second column]
The business, which was bought by Sears in 2002, generated sales of
$1.59 billion in 2012, down from $1.73 billion in 2011. Sears' sales
fell to $39.85 billion from $41.57 billion.
Founded in Chicago 50 years ago as a catalog business, Lands' End
has lost some of its cachet since the brand started to be sold at
About 16 percent of the brand's sales came from Lands' End shops
located in Sears stores in 2012.
"(Sears has) been slowly destroying it," Balter told Reuters.
Lands' End said the spinoff would give both it and Sears simplified
focus and operational flexibility.
"The spinoff ... is expected to result in a more efficient
allocation of capital for both Sears Holdings and Lands' End and
mitigate the competition for capital that currently exists between
Lands' End and other Sears Holdings business units," Lands' End said
in a filing.
Belus Capital's Sozzi said Sears' troubles would not end with the
spinoff of Lands' End, which he described as "a brand going down the
"I see better things from Wal-Mart and Target. They're getting all
the traffic. Sears and Kmart have not done enough to stay
competitive," he said.
The spinoff will be through a pro rata distribution of Lands' End
shares to Sears shareholders, Sears said in a regulatory filing on
Land's End said it expected to report net income of between $12.7
million and $14.2 million for the third quarter ended November 1, up
from $8.8 million a year earlier.
Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, owns about 48.4 percent of
Sears and will own an identical stake in Lands' End following the
ESL said this week it had cut its stake in Sears from 55.4 percent
by distributing about 7.4 million shares to fund investors.
Lands' End plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "LE." Sears
and Lands' End provided no timetable for the selloff and share
The business's current chief executive, Edgar Huber, is expected to
remain the CEO when it goes public.
Sears shares have risen nearly 21 percent this year, giving the
company a market value of about $5.3 billion.
(Additional reporting by Dhanya
Skariachan in New York; editing by Ted Kerr)
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