ESL's Sears Bet: So Crazy It Just Might Work?

March 01, 2012  

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Eddie Lampert’s wager on the troubled retailer is confounding analysts and infuriating investors. But rather than back off, he’s doubling down.

By Leah McGrath Goodman

 
  (Illustration by Andy Martin)
Does Edward Lampert know something about Sears that no one else does?

This question has been whispered up and down Wall Street as Lampert, Sears' beleaguered chairman and the founder of a $13 billion hedge fund firm, ESL Investments, has steadfastly clung to his vast position in the struggling retailer. Awash in negative ratings outlooks, liquidity concerns and dire warnings that cash flow may dry up during the next 12 months, Sears shares have taken a beating. The stock price has plummeted to as low as $29 a share earlier this year from just above $90 a year ago, trending steadily downward from more than $190 in 2007, leaving investors in ESL and Sears flummoxed by Lampert's seemingly unshakable confidence in the ailing retailer.

Lampert, who took the helm of Sears when it merged with Kmart in 2005 to form...

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