Sears Holding Corp. Chairman Eddie Lampert sent a 15-page letter to shareholders that, according to the Chicago Tribune, is a bit unorthodox.
The hedge fund manager with the Goldman Sachs pedigree expounds for 8,500 words (about the length of a New Yorker article) on topics as far-flung as the government's missteps trying to contain the financial meltdown, short-selling rules, civil liberties, the writings of free-market Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek and the notion, repeated in past letters, that the credit rating agencies are unfairly rating Sears' debt junk.
"As for enlightening investors with specifics about his merchandising strategy and fiscal 2009 outlook, we guess he ran out of room," Carol Levenson, co-founder of Chicago-based Gimme Credit, said in a report.
Lampert, the majority shareholder and chairman of Sears, has no investor relations department and rarely speaks publicly, making his yearly letter a rare opportunity for investors to get a glimpse into his thinking.
Among the quirkier sections of Lampert's 15-page letter is a call for job candidates with turnaround experience.
Besides the quirk, however, there is some useful information--including the tidbit that Sears will close an additional 24 stores this year. Last October, it had announced it was going to close 12 stores in 2009. Later, it announced plans to close eight more stores this year. So, by our count, that means it plans to shut 44 stores in 2009.
Bankruptcies and Liquidations:
- Jan. 7, Goody's liquidates, closing 287 stores
- Jan. 8, Against All Odds files for bankruptcy protection, operates 64 stores overall, plans to close West Coast stores
- Jan. 13, Shane Co. files for bankruptcy, operates 23 stores
- Jan. 14, Gottschalks files for bankruptcy, operates 58 stores
- Jan. 16, Circuit City to Liquidate, closing 567 stores
- Feb. 6, Fortunoff, operates 20 stores
- Feb. 6, Bruno's, operates 66 stores
- Feb. 12, S&K Famous Brands, operates 136 stores; Update: Feb. 19, plans to close 30.
- Feb. 17, Innovation Luggage, operates 10 stores
- Feb. 23, Ritz Camera, operates about 1,000 stores
Potential Bankruptcies & Liquidation Impact: 884 confirmed closures out of about 2,231 stores
- Jan. 8, New York & Co., 50 stores
- Jan. 8, Macy's, 11 stores
- Jan. 9, Supervalu, 50 stores
- Jan. 13, Cost Plus, 26 stores
- Jan. 20, Yankee Candle, 28 Illuminations stores
- Jan. 21, Filene's Basement, 11 stores
- Jan. 22, Phillips-Van Heusen, 175 stores
- Jan 22, Brown Shoe, up to 35 Famous Footwear stores
- Jan. 26, Home Depot, 48 stores
- Jan. 29, Starbucks, 200 U.S. Stores (plus 100 international)
- Jan. 29, Chico's, up to 25 stores
- Feb. 9, Talbots, 20 stores
- Feb. 24, Jimmy'Z, 11 stores
- Feb. 24, Z. Gallerie, 25 stores
- Feb. 25, Zale Corp., 115 stores
- Feb. 27, Sears, 44 stores
Total Closings: up to 874 U.S. stores
Potential Impact of All Announcements to Date: 1,758 closures out of up to 3,105 potentially affected U.S. stores