Forecasting 1st Quarter Increase, Sears Expands in Canada

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Chicago–Sears Holdings Corp. predicted Thursday that its first-quarter profit forecast that may exceed Wall Street expectations after its Sears U.S. department stores returned to positive sales for the first time in six years and Kmart saw its third straight gain.

Sears agreed to buy 18.7 million shares of already majority-owned Sears Canada at nearly $30 a share from Pershing Square Capital Management. The shares represent around 17% of the outstanding shares in Sears Canada and will add the company’s stake in the better-performing unit to 90.4%.

Quarter-to-date comparable sales rose 1.7%. At Sears U.S., they rose 0.3%, the first increase since the first quarter of 2004, paced by increased sales of new Kenmore home appliances and a federally funded stimulus program for consumers to buy more energy efficient products.

Kmart Upturns Too

Mark Snyder, Kmart’s chief marketing officer, says the discount chain is focusing on reconnecting with core customers. The 1,300-store chain has reported two consecutive quarters of positive U.S. same-store sales after 14 quarters of declines.

At Kmart, sales for the period through April 21 rose 3.2%, driven by demand for apparel, home and toys. That would mark the third straight quarterly gain at the discount chain after 14 straight declines.

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