Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) projected fourth quarter earnings well above consensus estimates Wednesday. The company estimates EPS for the period will be in a range between $4.87 and $5.39, well above estimates of $4.86 per share. Despite reports in the financial press that sounded much more gloomy about the company's core retail business, real estate sales and derivative contracts are expected to contribute only eight cents to earnings for the quarter.
Chairman Eddie Lampert has decided against share repurchases for the period, which will result in a cash balance of $3.5 billion, or $23 per SHLD share. What exactly he will use the cash for is still unknown, but many are speculating that a lack of share repurchases in Q4 signal that other uses for the money are far more likely in coming months. That seems like a very reasonable assumption.
Shares of SHLD rose 3.5% on the pre-announcement, to $172 per share, but it still appears to be attractively valued. Full year earnings should come in around $9.38 per share, putting the stock's trailing P/E at around 18. With 2007 earnings expected to jump more than 20 percent, a below-market multiple for Sears stock seems quite low. As a result, it remains a large long position of mine.
SHLD 1-yr chart
Disclosure: Long SHLD