Like any aging wealthy power who remarries late in life to a money-hungry, controlling, somewhat cruel, younger spouse, Sears and Eddie Lampert have had a rocky go of it.
But unlike the emotionally murky confines of an abusive marriage, one can easily see the scars that this union has left on what was once a proud retail giant. Behold, Sears stock since 2004:
It's fair to say that Lampert's love has been damaging to dear old Sears. The company is widely-believed to be a barely animated corpse drawing its last breath in the fading light of what was once the American retail sector. Lampert has leveraged everything he can to keep it alive, even digging into the earth beneath the stores and begging passersby to give him money for it. Sears' death has been long and painful to watch, but in true form Eddie Lampert cannot let Sears die peacefully.
We'll let Lampert put it in his own words via a post on Sears IR blog from earlier today:
In the past 18 months, we have taken a series of steps to foster the long-term viability of Sears Holdings in the face of a very challenging retail industry environment. We have extended the reach and long-term value of our prominent brands through strategic transactions and partnerships, including our collaboration with Amazon to sell Kenmore and DieHard products on their platform and the sale of Craftsman to Stanley Black & Decker. Most recently, we reached an agreement with the PBGC to pre-fund our contributions to the pension plan for the next two years. This agreement built on several other actions we took this year to protect the benefits of our retirees, including the annuitization of the pensions of almost 100,000 beneficiaries. These steps have also required the achievement of $1.25 billion in cost savings and a significant reduction in our store base through the closing of unprofitable locations. Finally, we have monetized some of our valuable real estate portfolio through property sales, which enabled us to repay some of the loans that were made to provide liquidity and obtain time for our transformation.
He's trying! But what can he do if the world doesn't love Sears enough to care anymore?! And, based on what all of his maneuvering has proven...the world simply doesn't care enough:
While these actions have so far helped our Company survive the so-called “Retail Apocalypse”, many observers are not persuaded that Sears Holdings can be a viable competitor in the long term. It is obvious that to overcome such skepticism and obtain the support of outside lenders and our vendor community – which is crucial to the success of any retailer – we need to undertake further measures.
Eddie goes on to detail what those moves will be, three bullet points that we read as; More investment from Lampert and friends [please let Steve Mnuchin be one of them], second liens, and more mass layoffs/store closures. All of these are desperate enough on their own and harbingers of death when grouped together, but Lampert doesn't even promise that it will end here:
However, should our efforts to complete the refinancing not be fully successful, the Company’s Board will consider all other options to maximize the value of Sears Holdings’ assets.
What 'By any means necessary"'-type talk be this? Is Eddie going fully crazy in the madness of his anguish and grief? And what else could a moribund economic giant of America's past do to stay alive in this unrecognizable new economy?
Shares of Kodak surged 34 percent after the company said it said it was launching a “major blockchain initiative.”
The company and WENN Digital announced the creation of KODAKOne, an image rights management platform, and KODAKCoin, a virtual token “to allow photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management.”
If Kodak, a shallow-breathing relic of America's industrial golden age, can find a few more hours of life in the alchemy of an ICO, what black sorcery could Eddie Lampert perform upon his beloved Sears?
Stand back, Ripple, you've had you 15 minutes. It's time you all started getting ready to make room in your digital wallets for SEARScoin. And, Spoiler Alert, 1 SEARScoin comes with 2 free Kenmore appliances.