With own brands Kenmore and DieHard to bear, Sears outlook still has promise

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — As speculation abounded about the state of Sears Holdings' financials, Sears CFO Jason Hollar on Wednesday reiterated that even as the Sears and Kmart bulkheads have taken on water in 2016, the ship as a whole is steadily navigating toward profitability. "It is very important to reiterate that Sears Holdings remains focused on executing our transformation plan and will continue to take actions to help ensure our competitiveness and ability to continue to meet our financial obligations," Hollar stated.

The sale of its own brands Kenmore and Die Hard may have something to do with guiding Sears toward better financials.

"We have very valuable brands among our assets, including some of the most iconic American brands," Eddie Lampert, Sears chairman and CEO noted in an open letter to associates published earlier this month. And the company is actively pursuing strategic options for its Kenmore and DieHard brands, especially following the successful sale of its Craftsman line of tools to Stanley, Black & Decker for $900 million.

"[That] transaction delivered significant value for Sears Holdings," Lampert said.

"We have very valuable brands among our assets.”

While the Kenmore brand for appliances and the DieHard brand for car batteries command significant brand equity, any asset sale would need approval from the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, a government agency that protects retirement incomes for American workers, Reuters reported Thursday.

And the market share of the brands are dropping, Reuters added. Citing data from Stevenson Company, Reuters reported Kenmore's share of the home appliances market fell from 17.4% to 12.7% between 2011 and 2016. Similarly, DieHard's share of the auto battery market declined from 7% to 5.2% in the same period.

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