Before the market opens Thursday, Sears (SHLD) will announce Q1 2008 earnings. The current estimate is $1.22 a share vs. $1.10 last year. What will investors be looking for?
1- Same Store Sales:
Sears, despite constantly improving profitability has experience a steady decline here. Investors seem to want to see a bottom. If this number comes in flat or up, watch for an immediate run in the stock. Much has been said about the importance this metric has and that it is not a "be all end all", but, if it is the one folks follow, then we need to pay attention to it.
2- The Cash
Has Lampert done anything with it? Did he maybe buy Citi (C) shares for Sears and ESL? Has he invested it anywhere else?
3- The Swaps
These have been the only real investments outside of the retail operations. How are they performing? Did he liquidate them? Did he increase them?
4- The New Ad Campaign
Having seen it, I think is is great and have not seen anything close to this good from Sears in recent memory. Initial results from it may be available and anything said about it will be of interest.
Believe it or not the actual earning numbers may take a back seat to the previous questions, assuming no large variation to expectations. Retails results have been mixed this quarter so a small beat or a miss may not be as important to investors as having answers to the other questions.
What will results be? With Sears not giving any guidance, any estimate is just a guess. I do know one thing, no matter what happens, I am not selling.