Sears disappoints on weak sales in U.S., Canada

By @ibtimes on

U.S. retailer Sears Holdings Corp reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss as sales at its namesake stores plunged both at its home turf and in Canada.

Like rivals Wal-Mart Stores Inc , Home Depot Inc and Lowes Cos , Sears has seen demand for appliances fall after a government stimulus for energy-efficient models ended last year. Many U.S. shoppers continue to look for incentives to buy expensive items like washers and refrigerators.

Bad weather in many parts of the United States, Sears' main market, also hurt sales of spring goods and kept shoppers away from stores.

The operator of Sears department stores and the Kmart discount chain has also faced criticism for relying too heavily on cost-cutting to boost profits rather than improving its merchandise mix and customer service.

Sales at the company have fallen every year since it was formed through the merger of Sears and Kmart in 2005.

Sears reported a net loss of $170 million, or $1.58 a share, for the first quarter ended on April 30, compared with a year-earlier net profit of $16 million, or 14 cents a share.

Excluding items, the loss was $1.39 a share, while analysts on average expected only a loss of $1.22, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In early May, Sears estimated the loss at $1.35 to $1.81 per share. It also reported a 3.6 percent drop in sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year, including a 5.2 percent decline for its namesake brand and 1.6 percent at Kmart.

At the time, billionaire investor Eddie Lampert, who formed the company and owns a controlling stake, said there were no excuses for the poor first quarter and that Sears must do better.

Sales fell 3.4 percent to $9.71 billion for the quarter. Analysts were looking for $9.63 billion.

Earlier this week, Sears Canada Inc reported a bigger quarterly loss on a 9.2 percent decline in same-store sales.

Sears, which recently named a new chief executive officer, is revamping its clothing lines and expanding the variety of home services it offers in a bid to win share from rivals ranging from Wal-Mart to Amazon.com Inc .

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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