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Sears Promises Delights, as Comps Fall

In a hint of its new marketing strategy, Sears Holdings Corp. (SHC) executives announced the launch of a series of Sears Books during the company's annual shareholders meeting late last week.

The first pre-print book was scheduled to launch May 6 with a Mother's Day theme expected to point in the direction of its new initiative. The mini-catalogs will continue through the year with a series of yet to be finalized subjects that include Simply Indoors, Simply Outdoors, and a holiday book.

Next week, Kmart will unveil its own marketing initiative: Mr. Blue Light, an animated blue light bulb that will point out new products throughout the store, as well as key items and "excellent" values.

Maureen McGuire, chief marketing officer, said Mr. Blue Light will focus on "discoveries to delight the family."

In a less than delightful recap of the fiscal 2007 first quarter (ended Saturday, May 5), SHC said comp-store sales fell 4.7% at Kmart, while Sears U.S. comps dropped 2.4%.

Profits, on the other hand, are looking up. The company projected first-quarter net earnings between $200 million and $235 million, a big jump up from the profit of $180 million a year ago.

Not much of that gain came from retailing, however, as a major positive impact was derived from $69 million in pre-tax items including "a gain related to a legal settlement, a dividend received by Holdings from its Sears Mexico investment, a curtailment gain related to changes made to Sears Canada benefit plans, a gain from insurance recoveries on stores damaged by hurricanes in 2005, partially offset by losses on total return swap investments."

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