NEW YORK – Sears Holdings Corp. plans to spin off its Lands’ End Inc. unit, giving investors a piece of a profitable clothing brand amid almost nine years of market-lagging returns for the department store chain’s shares.
The distribution is subject to the approval of the board and other conditions, Sears said Friday in a statement. The unit’s registration, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, didn’t say how many Lands’ End shares Sears investors would receive. Edward Lampert, Sears’ chairman, chief executive officer and largest shareholder, is breaking off for investors a unit that has remained profitable while the department store chain started losing money. Sears shares slid about 57 percent since March, 28, 2005, when Lampert merged Kmart Holding Corp. and Sears, Roebuck & Co., through Thursday, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 52 percent in that time.
“It’s a good thing for shareholders,” said Robert Passikoff, president of consultant Brand Keys in New York. “Lands’ End, the brand itself, was weakened by its association with Sears. Folks see Sears as being more downscale, cheaper. Lands’ End could regain some of its brand shine by being off on its own.”
Sears fell 3.8 percent to $48.09 at the close in New York on Friday after rising as much as 4 percent earlier in the day. Lands’ End, founded in 1963 and acquired by Sears in June 2002 for about $1.9 billion, said in its registration statement that it had net income of $49.8 million on revenue of $1.6 billion in its fiscal 2012. While that performance is better than Sears’ $930 million loss last year, Lands’ End’s net income has dropped 63 percent since 2008 as revenue slid 4.2 percent.