Sears Holdings: Is Eddie Lampert The New Mr. Met?


Sears Holdings doesn't seem to be working out. Eddie Lampert was supposed to be the next Warren Buffett, and Sears Holdings the next Berkshire Hathaway. But this week shares in the company hit a new 52-week low after investors digested poor earnings performance, bad news on same store sales and worries that we might be entering a rough sector for the entire retail sector.
The logic that boosted Sears Holdings from a $50 per share company to a $200 per share was built on the value of its real estate. Lampert was said to have a plan to leverage the underlying real estate assets of Sears Holdings to make other investments, basically turning an old fashioned retailer into a twenty-first century hedge fund or private equity firm. But with consumer sentiment down and real estate deflating, the real estate to investment company play looks a lot less feasible.
Even as short interest in most NASDAQ stocks fell in September, short interest in Sears Holdings shot up by almost 15 percent. Short positions stood at about 13.7 million shares in mid-September, nearly 10 percent of the outstanding stock in the company. This puts it up there with short favorites, for lack of a better term, like Crocs, Lulumon and Pet Smart.
So does Lampert, who Business Week once called an "investment wizard," have some magical plan for Sears Holdings? Will Skull & Bones somehow rescue the company with a Dear Island strategy? Lampert is supposedly obsessed with protecting his downside. So when we think about the future of Sears Holdings we can't help but ask: What Would Eddie Do?
Well, if we can't have Sears Holdings, at least we'll always have the Mets, right? Hello? Anyone still listening?