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Sears makes accounting adjustments; lowers 4Q results

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears, Roebuck and Co. said it will restate its fourth quarter earnings due to an accounting error for lease transactions. It also plans to file amended reports for FY 2003 and quarterly 2004 filings to correct cash-flow statements related to its credit card business.

Sears believes the fourth quarter restatement will reduce previously reported EPS by 5 to 10 cents. The reduction results from amortizing construction allowances over a longer period of time than historically had been the practice. The change will also affect income statement classification by increasing depreciation expense and reducing cost of sales, buying and occupancy.

Amending reports related to Sears’ credit card cash flow is not expected to impact net income from the previous reporting periods. The restatement has to do with cash flows from the company's domestic credit card business, which was divested in November 2003. The SEC has requested that instead of reporting cash flows from the Sears Card and Sears Gold Card as cash flows from operating activities, the company report the cash as being generated from investing activities.

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