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More Closings for Sears

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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:

Potential Bankruptcies & Liquidation Impact: 884 confirmed closures out of about 2,231 stores

Announced Closings

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

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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