Is Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) on the verge of turning things around? If judging solely based on the trading action of SHLD stock, which surged 15% Friday, the beleaguered department store retailer is now a slam-dunk investment.
Sears stock closed Friday at $9.23, putting the shares up 21% for the week and almost 33% in 30 days.
Despite the strong rise, SHLD stock is still down 1.6% year-to-date, underscoring the remarkable gains investors have witnessed in such a short period of time. Notably, the Sears stock performance comes even as the Illinois-based company reported terrible fiscal Q4 and full year earnings results last week.
What’s Going on With Sears Stock?
Indeed, SHLD’s per-share losses of $137 million, or $1.28 per share, which beat last year’s loss of $181 million, or $1.70 per share, wasn’t as bad as expected. And the fact that revenue beat estimates was encouraging.
But there was no indication that Sears has escaped the death grip of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Fourth-quarter revenues of $6.1 billion were down 16% from year-over-year.
Despite the brutal results, SHLD chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert was upbeat:
“We delivered significant Adjusted EBITDA improvement in the fourth quarter, reflecting our firm focus on profitability to offset ongoing revenue pressures. Building on this positive momentum, we are taking decisive actions to become a more agile and competitive retailer with a clear path toward profitability.”
That’s all well and good. But all the company did was jump over the low bar. And it would seem SHLD stock is priced on the belief that the company will continue to deliver “less bad” results in the quarters ahead. And that’s an understatement, given that Sears is expected to post a loss of $12.71 per share for all of fiscal-year 2017. While next year’s projected loss of $12.12 per share may narrow YoY, it will still be worse than the loss of $8.30 per share posted for full-year 2014. This means that Sears is still far away from breaking even.
On the positive side, SHLD, which owns the stores it operates, is still looking to monetize its real estate with real estate investment trusts. Likewise, the fact that Sears stock has beaten earnings estimates in four straight quarters, is also encouraging. But during the earnings beat streak, its rate of revenue declines have worsened each time, meaning the company has found ways to lower costs, not grow its customer base. And without the latter, which is what SHLD stock needs to grow, there’s no point to staying open.
Bottom Line for SHLD Stock
The rise in Sears stock is nothing more than irrational exuberance. With average revenue declining by 12% in the last four quarters, there’s not enough value to make SHLD stock a compelling buy today. And with short sellers controlling more than 80% of its outstanding shares, long investors should take profits now and wait for Sears to deliver another quarter or two of improving revenue and earnings before assessing the next move.
As of this writing, Richard Saintvilus did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.