It's been three years since Eddie Lampert decided it was time for Eddie Lampert to take the reins at Sears Holdings, splitting his time between the world of hedge funds and getting elbows deep in the retail game.
And in that time, Eddie has been reasonably quiet - save for the awkward moments when running his hedge fund put him in almost direct conflict with running Sears - while learning how to be CEO of your grandad's favorite superstore. Lampert offered some macro musings in a very entertaining Chairman's Letter published today.
For instance, Eddie knows that the millennials are all about Amazon, but he's got some bad news for all you pesky kids who love Bezos' monster baby so much:
Companies like Amazon were able to grow rapidly without having to collect sales tax, while traditional retail companies had the dual disadvantages of having to report profits and to collect sales tax from their customers. While it is true that Amazon’s customers, by law, were required to calculate and pay sales tax in states that required it, many commentators conveniently ignored these laws in their coverage of Amazon and the state and local authorities did little to enforce the existing laws. The consequence? We are now seeing more and more retail stores shut down and the tax base of many municipalities eroding due to the hollowing out of the sales tax base as the Wall Street Journal recently reported. Even the largest and most successful retailers, like Walmart, are shuttering stores all over the world.
You think it's cool that Amazon can drone you over some organic carpet cleaner when you hit a button? Well, that is making it a lot harder for people to buy washing machines and - we assume - polyester Nehru jackets at their local Sears retailer.
And don't even get Eddie started on Tesla...
Some innovative companies like Tesla are heavily subsidized by government policy (either directly or through purchases made by their customers), while existing car companies are forced to comply with mandates to produce cars that people may not want at enormous cost. These companies rely heavily on continued financing (Tesla raised over $1 billion in equity and over $2.5 billion in debt over the past four years) and favorable capital market conditions and valuations, while companies viewed through a more traditional lens, like Sears Holdings, are met with skepticism even though we have an enormous asset base and a proven history of monetizing these assets and raising additional capital to fund our obligations and transformation.
If Eddie Lampert hears one more f@cking hipster fawn over those subsidized electric cars, he's going to run them over with a Dodge Dart that he bought at Sears... because they still have them in stock.
Why is everyone so crazy about Tesla? Because it loses money in a way cooler way than Sears does?
Yeah, that's actually the answer.
Speaking of losing money, Eddie's letter accompanies Sears Q4 results for 2015. Sears revenue dropped by $2.5 billion in the quarter, posting a loss of $580 million...that's $5.44 per share.
But you know who else Eddie thinks sucks? Uber.
Chairman's Letter [Sears Holdings]