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Sears Holdings Corporation (SHLD)

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Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) is the third largest general merchandise retail company in the United States after Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT). SHLD operates under the Sears and Kmart names in the US and Canada. Product offerings in SHLD stores include apparel, jewelry, appliances, hardware, sporting goods, car repair services, home improvement services and electronics.

The company was formed in 2005 by the merger of Sears Roebuck (Sears) and Kmart Holdings. The merger was coordinated by Edward Lampert, the current Chairman, whom now holds over 54% of the shares outstanding through his hedge fund ESL Investments. Despite strong brand recognition, Sears Holdings, as with Kmart and Sears before it, has suffered several successive years of falling sales and market share erosion. These negative trends can be largely attributed to increasing competition in the industry. Other retail giants such as Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and Target (TGT) have been aggressively capturing ever greater amounts of customers’ wallet share through expanded selections and steeper discounts.

Sears Holdings is composed of three business segments: Kmart, Sears Domestic, and Sears Canada.The firm has no international presence outside of Canada. SHLD’s product assortments in both Sears Department Stores as well as Kmart SuperStores and Discount Stores cover virtually all product categories: clothing, major home appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, etc.), home improvement/home repair, auto repair services, and groceries.

Sears Holdings is the third largest general merchandise retailer in the world (in terms of net sales) behind big box retailers Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT), whose enormous scale allows each to extract value in their inventory purchases and pass these savings on to consumers. SHLD’s competitors in the mid-tier department store industry include Macy’s Inc. (M), J.C. Penney (JCP), and Kohl’s (KSS).

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