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Sears Holdings' Kmart division takes comps spotlight in December, quarter and YTD

Hoffman Estates, Ill. - Sears Holdings Corporation reported slight comp declines for its total company and harsher deceases at its Sears stores, but made strides at its Kmart stores in December, its fourth quarter-to-date and its year-to-date results.

Specifically, comparable store sales were: at Kmart up 2.3% in December, up 3.4% quarter to date, and up 0.8% year to date; at Sears down 6.0% in December, down 5.3% quarter to date and down 3.8% year to date; and for the total company down 1.7% in December, down 1.1% quarter to date and down 1.6% year to date.

Home got some credit for part of Kmart's recent successes. The company explained Kmart's quarter-to-date comps "continued to benefit from our layaway program as well as from increases in the toys, home, sporting goods, apparel and footwear categories." But these increases were partially offset by declines in the food and consumables and pharmacy categories.

Sears Domestic's sales decline was primarily driven by the hardlines categories, the company continued. "Over half of the decline occurred in consumer electronics with appliances and tools also experiencing declines. In contrast, Sears' footwear, jewelry, and automotive categories generated comparable store sales growth during the quarter-to-date period."

As a result, the company expects net income attributable to Holdings' shareholders for the quarter ending January 29 to be between $370 million and $450 million, or between $3.39 and $4.12 per diluted share. The expectation of fourth quarter net income attributable to Holdings' shareholders and earnings per share attributable to Holdings' shareholders excludes the potential impact, if any, related to store closings and impairment charges, restructuring activities including severance, and mark-to-market gains and losses on hedge transactions executed by Sears Canada.

For the full fiscal year, ending Jan. 29, Sears Holdings expects net income attributable to Holdings' shareholders to be between $130 million and $210 million, or between $1.16 and $1.88 per diluted share, which also excludes the potential fourth quarter impact, if any, related to store closings and impairment charges, restructuring activities including severance, and mark-to-market gains and losses on hedge transactions executed by Sears Canada. F

The company currently plans to release financial results for its fourth quarter and full fiscal 2010 on or about Feb. 24 before the market opens.

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