RadioShack (RSH) announced its second-quarter financial results this morning, and (surprising no one) they weren’t good.
Nonetheless, RSH stock was up more than 10% in morning trading, fueled by reports that UBS AG (UBS) — in tandem with the hedge fund Standard General — are hastily putting together a deal to help RadioShack refinance a $535 million revolving credit line from General Electric’s (GE) GE Capital, according to Bloomberg.
The emergency loan package is necessary because the RSH turnaround plan is plainly not working. The electronics retailer continues to hemorrhage cash, same-store sales cratered 20% last quarter, RSH stock has traded below $1 for much of the past three months, and the company today acknowledged that bankruptcy protection might be a possibility.
Of course, Wall Street has used the “B” word before this; just yesterday, a Wedbush analyst lowered his price target on RSH stock to $0 from $1.
Is there any turning back?
The Beginning of the End
Remember Circuit City? In late 2008, the big-box electronics retailer was in a similar position as RadioShack today. Stores were closing, bankruptcy was a real possibility, the stock traded for pennies and shares were at risk of delisting. Months later, after failing to sell its business, Circuit City liquidated its remaining stores and disappeared from the face of the earth.
Sure, a big part of Circuit City’s decline had to do with the awful state of the economy as the U.S. plunged into a crippling recession.
But the convenience of online shopping and the competitive prices found on the internet, and especially on Amazon.com (AMZN), were already eating away at Circuit City’s sustainability.
The process of “showrooming,” where customers go into physical stores, interact with products, then subsequently buy them on the Internet, became an existential threat to retailers years ago. Even for the last remaining big-box electronics retailer of today, Best Buy (BBY), showrooming poses a fundamental problem.
For RadioShack and RSH stock specifically, its mobility business is the most direct cause of its most recent woes. Consumers don’t want to go to RadioShack to buy phones, preferring instead to go directly to carriers or retailers that offer more compelling price promotions.
RadioShack faces a true liquidity crisis, and in its quarterly report today RadioShack said it can do one of several things: raise more money from creditors, close stores and restructure its debt; sell itself; or partner up and recapitalize.
If it fails to do one of those things, RSH said, it will likely have to resort to a Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 filing.
But hey — RadioShack might get that lifeline from UBS, right?
Maybe, but RSH stock still is an indefensibly risky investment right now, as the company clearly unsustainable business model and inability to adequately control its own destiny paint a gloomy picture.
RadioShack is on the rebound today, but the prospects of RSH hitting $0 still are very, very real.
As of this writing, John Divine held a long position in AAPL stock.