Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Retailers: PETM and SHLD

Petsmart (PETM) recently announced very impressive earnings. The company earned $0.75 a share vs $0.50 the same quarter a year ago. When a company earnings rises by 50%, it earns a high P/E multiple. The expected P/E for the current year is 20. The company's revenue rose 9%.

PETM is the country's largest pet retailer; the company has 1,200 stores. It is unclear to me how much more it can expand. On top of that, I heard Jim Cramer of CNBC has been touting PETM all year. Jim Cramer is as big a contrarian indicator as I have seen. When he says buy, I hear sell! I really want to unload PETM but now that it is up 2.5x, but I am reluctant because of capital gains.

While PETM is flying high, Sears Holdings (SHLD) is going in the opposite direction. The company's sales declined yet further in the most recent quarter. Comparable store sales was down 1.6% for Sears and 4.8% for Kmart. The company lost money yet again but it does not have liquidity problems. I trust Eddie Lampert to keep the company afloat and extract the most value. They have recently spun off Sears Hometown and Outlet and then Sears Canada in two transactions. Despite Eddie Lampert saying repeatedly that he didn't invest in Sears to sell its real estate, he is selling the company piece by piece to unlock value. When just the core Sears is leftover he just may shutter the best locations and sell their real estate. That's fine by me, but many would feel sad to see the decline of an iconic retailer.

Disclosure: I am considering selling some PETM and my Sears Canada position but I haven't made up my mind.

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