FINANCE

Sears Q1 loss widens; closing 80 stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hoffman Estates, Ill. – Sears Holdings Corp. on Thursday said it plans to close at least 80 stores this year as the retailer continues to deal with mounting losses. The retailer reported that its fiscal first quarter net loss grew to $402 million, from $279 million in the prior year first quarter.

Sears’ revenues declined 7% to $7.9 billion, from $8.5 billion. In one bright spot, same-store sales rose 0.2%. Higher tax rates and the effect of promotional transactions on gross margin helped increase net loss, while Sears cited the closure of Kmart and Sears full-line stores, as well as the separation of its Lands’ End business, as contributing to declining revenues.

Edward L. Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holding Corp., said the company is experience struggles as it changes its business model.

"Sears is undergoing a significant transformation, and we fundamentally are changing the way we do business," said Lampert. "Our performance in the first quarter highlights the challenges we are facing as well as the progress we are making in this transformation. We are moving away from a company that was heavily based on selling products solely through a store-based network to a member-centric business model focused on providing benefits to our members anytime and anyplace. We are seeing progress in our transformation to a member-centric, integrated retailer, as we continue to invest heavily in driving our Shop Your Way program.”

In a pre-recorded call on Thursday Lampert told investors that Sears is shifting towards a model “that is focused on providing benefits to our members by forming individual relationships using our technology and platforms.

"Our new business model is less asset-intensive and variable in nature," Lampert said.

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FINANCE

Best Buy turns profit on lower costs, tax benefit

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – Best Buy Co. Inc. swung to a net profit in the first quarter of fiscal 2015 from a net loss in the same period a year earlier, but missed estimates with a drop in sales. The retailer posted net income of $461 million, a big turnaround from a net loss of $81 million.

Best Buy credited its swing to profitability to savings from its Renew Blue cost reduction program and a one-time tax benefit from changes in the structure of its foreign operations. However, net sales fell 3% to $9.03 million from $9.35 million, aided by a 1.9% decline in same-store sales. Analysts had expected a more modest decrease to $9.23 billion in net sales.

Absent any major product launches in what Best Buy expects to be a softening consumer electronics market, the company is expecting same-store sales to be negative in the low-single digits in both the second and third quarters.

“Beyond our financial results, we made progress against our three business imperatives, which are to improve our operational performance; build our foundational capabilities to unlock future growth strategies; and leverage our unique assets to create a differentiated value proposition that is meaningful to our customers and our vendors,” said Hubert Joly, president and CEO of Best Buy.

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Best Buy braces for more comp-store sales decreases in next two quarters

BY CSA STAFF

First quarter same store sales at Best Buy fell a greater than expected 1.3% due to declining sales of consumer electronics and competition from online retailers.

While the retailer experienced growth in computing, gaming and appliances, it was more than offset by declines in other categories, including tablets, services and home theater. President and CEO Hubert Joly focused on the positive, however.

“This quarter reflects continued progress in our Renew Blue transformation. From a financial perspective, we delivered just over $9 billion in revenue and a better-than-expected $0.33 in non-GAAP diluted earnings per share,” said Joly, adding that the company achieved market share gains in the U.S., fueled, in part, by improved price competitiveness.

According to Joly, the company also improved its operational performance, built its foundational capabilities to unlock future growth strategies and leveraged its assets to create a differentiated value proposition to its customers and vendors.

“This progress included leveraging our new ship-from-store and digital marketing capabilities to help drive a 29% increase in domestic comparable online sales; announcing new home theater stores-within-a-store vendor partnerships with Samsung and Sony; launching new mobile installment billing programs; and increasing our annualized Renew Blue cost reductions by $95 million,” explained Joly.

Looking ahead, Best Buy anticipates continued industry-wide sales declines in the second and third quarter in many of the consumer electronics categories in which it competes. The retailer also expects weak sales in the mobile phone category. The company therefore expects comparable sales to be negative in the low-single digits in the next two quarters.

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