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Why Sears Holdings May Be Dying



Sears Holdings has been collapsing both fundamentally and in its stock price for nearly a decade. Some feel it may have started when the firm bought K-Mart back in 2005. The company has been selling assets, closing stores and throttled capital expenditures just to stay in business. The Motley Fool reports that John Kernan of Cowen sees SHLD closing 500 stores in the next few years out of a total of under 2,000.

The spiral began as the firm simply did not move fast enough in the Internet space, while Amazon (AMZN) stepped in, and both Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT) have re-vamped, re-modelled and re-invested in technology to stay relevant. Sears has done none of that. Sears also needs cash and is likely to sell its last massive asset, which is Sears Canada (it owns 51%).

SHLD's revenue (TTM) has dropped for more than five consecutive quarters. One year ago the firm reported $35.6 billion while the most recent trailing-twelve-months yielded just $29.2 billion in revenue (an 18% drop year-over-year). That number dives to a 25% two-year drop.

Technicals   |   Support: 24.78   |   Resistance: 29.23   

Swing Death Cross Alert: The short-term 10 day MA is now below the 50 day MA.

SHLD has a one bull (lowest rated) technical rating because it's trading below the 10-day (short-term), 50-day (medium-term) and 200-day (long-term) moving averages.

Here are the consensus estimates for next quarter. Note that last quarter's actual result is included at the far right.
Earnings Date EPS Revenue (Mean) Revenue (Median) Last Quarter (Actual)
2015-08-20 $-3.21 $6,093.5 M $6,093.5 M $5,882.0 M Provided by ZACKS

Let's look at the core elements that drive the company's fundamental rating.

Fundamentals Rating Summary

Revenue (TTM US$ Millions) 29,201 35,615 39,036

Operating Margin (QTR) 0.960 0.95 0.97 RISING

Net Income (TTM US$ Millions) -1,583 -1,488 -1,398 FALLING

Levered Free Cash Flow (TTM US$ Millions) -235 299 -593 FALLING

Capital Expenditures (TTM US$ Millions) 242 341 358 FALLING

Stock Returns and Chart

SHLD is down -37.0% over the last three months and down -18.0% over the last six months. The stock has returned -30.0% over the last year.

Before we dig into the fundamental trends that drive the rating, let's look at a two-year stock chart with regression channel and 10-day momentum (on the bottom).
Click here to interact with this stock chart

Now let's examine the visualizations of the critical financial measures.

Revenue (TTM US$ Millions) 29,20135,61539,036

Revenue (TTM) is trending lower meaning that it has decreased for at least five consecutive quarters (in this case, nearly 20 consecutive quarters). We can see the trend rather clearly in the time series chart, below. At its peak, the firm hit over $53 billion in sales in 2006.

What do all these numbers mean?
SHLD's fundamental rating was hit hard by these results:
1. The one-year change was negative.
2. The two-year change was negative.
Finally, the five+ consecutive quarters of a down trend in revenue hurt the fundamental (star) rating..

Let's look at Revenue (TTM US$ Millions) in the chart below.

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Net Income (TTM US$ Millions) -1,583-1,488-1,398FALLING

Net Income (after tax profit) over the trailing twelve months (TTM) for SHLD is falling. For the most recent trailing-twelve-months (TTM) the company reported a loss of -1.6 billion. The company last reported a profit in 2011.

In our next chart we plot Net Income (TTM US$ Millions) in the blue bars.

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Levered Free Cash Flow (TTM US$ Millions) -235299-593FALLING

Levered Free Cash Flow (TTM US$ Millions) is a critical determinant of stock price since market cap is the present value of all future free cash flows. For SHLD the metric is falling (it was $299 million last year). For the most recent trailing-twelve-months the company reported FCF (TTM) of -$235 million. At its peak, SHLD reported $3.5 billion in FCF (TTM) back in 2006.

For our next chart we plot Levered Free Cash Flow (TTM US$ Millions) in the blue bars through time.

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Capital Expenditures (TTM US$ Millions) 242341358FALLING

Oddly, the real death nail may be Capital Expenditures (CapEx) (TTM US$ Millions). Spending come down 29% year-over-year and is down ~60% from its peak free cash flow days in 2006. Further, we can see that CapEx today relative to two-years ago is down 32%. "Innovate or die" has long been the mantra of Silicon Valley and in reality, is the mantra of all businesses. SHLD isn't innovating, which leaves one alternative.

In our final time series chart we plot Capital Expenditures (TTM US$ Millions) in the blue bars. Note the falling bars from one-year ago.

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With revenue collapsing, net income now at a $1.6 billion loss and FCF falling negative, SHLD is one of few companies in the world with a zero star rating. Further, its cash ratio (total cash and cash equivalents to its current liabilities) is lower than all peers. In fact, let's look at all retailing companies with revenue above $20 billion, rank them on the x-axis (equal spaced) and plot the cash ratio on the y-axis.

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We can SHLD all by itself.

SHLD's assets are also at 13-year lows. All told, the company is suffocating on every aspect of the business landscape from internal investment, to cash, to revenue and earnings and even return on asets which has dropped to a negative 13%. Nothing is set in stone, but all signs point to one disappointing conclusion. Sears Holdings is going to die.