(By Balaseshan) Retailer Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:SHLD) reported a narrower quarterly loss due to lower selling and administrative expenses as well as an improvement in gross margin rate. Despite revenue missing consensus, loss came in line with Street's expectations.
Loss for the second quarter narrowed to $132 million or $1.25 per share from $146 million or $1.37 per share last year. Adjusted loss per share narrowed to $0.86 from $1.18.
Revenue declined 6.6% to $9.47 billion, due to lower domestic comparable store sales for the quarter and the effect of having fewer Kmart and Sears Full-line stores in operation.
Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of $0.86 per share on revenue of $9.63 billion for the second quarter.
Sears Domestic's comparable store sales declined 2.9%, Kmart's store sales decreased 4.7%, and Sears Canada's store sales fell 7.1%. The largest impact was in consumer electronics, which continues to be negatively impacted by price compression.
For the quarter, gross margin increased 100 basis points to 26.7% due to lower cost of sales. Selling and administrative expenses declined 6.3% to $2.44 billion due to decreases in payroll and advertising expenses.
The company said it continues to make progress towards completing the Sears Hometown and Outlet Store transaction, which it expects will raise $446.5 million in gross proceeds, and the partial spin-off of its interest in Sears Canada to shareholders.
Sears expects to close the Sears Hometown and Outlet Store transaction in the third quarter of 2012 and complete the Sears Canada partial spin-off in the second half of 2012.
Total debt (consisting of short-term borrowings, long-term debt and capital lease obligations) was $3.3 billion at July 28, 2012, compared to $3.5 billion at January 28, 2012. Availability under our credit facilities was $2.1 billion ($1.6 billion domestic and $0.5 billion at Sears Canada).
The company had cash balances of about $738 million on July 28, 2012, compared to $754 million at January 28, 2012. Merchandise inventories on July 28, 2012 were $8.7 billion, as compared with $9.3 billion on July 30, 2011. Domestic inventory decreased $512 million to $7.9 billion at July 28, 2012 driven by both improved productivity and store closures.
SHLD closed Wednesday's regular session up 2.59% at $56.60. The stock has been trading between $28.89 and $85.90 for the past 52 weeks.