NEW YORK - August 4, 2008 - Wall Street takes a look at 8 larger retailers that are in real trouble. Some are at risk for bankruptcy and each of them could have to cut operations so much that their revenue would be a fraction of what it is now.
- Sears (SHLD) is the most likely candidate for mass store closings. It has the balance sheet to weather a tough period, but not at its current size. Between the Sears and K-Mart brands, Sears operates in 3,800 locations. The company is losing money and its cash balance fell sharply in the last quarter. In its comments about financial results, Sears said it did not expect that the troubles with a slow economy or rising commodities prices would get better this year. Comparable store sales for the Sears brand dropped almost 10%.
- Circuit City (CC) has to top the list of retailers that are not likely to make it out of a severe recession. The company's share price is $2, down from over $25 less than two years ago. Its market cap is only $350 million even though annual revenue runs about $12 billion. The competition in consumer electronics is killing CC margins. The company has almost 700 stores. If a downturn lasts well into next year, CC will have to cut scores of locations or seek court protection for its assets.
- Pier 1 Imports Inc. (PIR) is expected to lose money for fiscal Feb-2009 and has posted losses over the last three years. The good news is that appears to have liquidity enough to get through the storm as long as it can move back to annual profitability in fiscal 2010 as analysts expect. As of March 1, 2008 it had 1,117 stores and it has already closed some locations and many expect more. If the retail recession lasts into next year, Pier 1's future starts to get dicey.
- Cost Plus Inc. (CPWM) is thought of by many as "The Other Pier 1", and it can't be any secret that its restructuring and turnaround have failed to generate anything of benefit. Its market cap is only $50 million against annual sales of $1 billion It has just shy of 300 locations and Cost Plus is faced with the prospects of closing more stores or paring down the size of some of the stores on its current leases. As it fights a buyout by Pier 1, Cost Plus is faced with management and legal distractions not unlike those which Yahoo! has been up against.
- Tuesday Morning Corp. (TUES) is another at-risk liquidation retailer that sells many in-home items that overlap products sold at larger retailers. The company is expected to be profitable by analysts but it doesn't take a genius to realize that the company has had enough earnings warnings to bring the stock down from $30 in 2005 down to $4 today. Bankruptcy isn't an immediate possibility, but it would be easy to imagine that with 800+ locations the company may start lopping off some under-performing units.
- Gap Inc. (GPS) is such a damaged brand that you have to be amazed that it has remained profitable during a period of declining sales. The "dead money stock" classification for investors has been in effect for almost this entire decade. It shuttered its Forth & Towne brand and has been restructuring under new management. It has announced that it is closing many locations of the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy brand stores, and it is really consolidating the Gap locations of Baby, Kids, and "Us."
- Blockbuster Inc. (BBI) has been a perpetual saga, which many would have, call a race to Zero. Netflix is only one of its problems, but it is amazing that Blockbuster has managed to do well as it has. Many market pundits believe it is only WHEN rather than IF it disappears. But there is hope and amazingly enough it is expected that the company will be profitable for each of the next two years and it is even expected to grow earnings. Whether or not this happens depends on both the economy and the rate at which consumer move to digital downloads.
- Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) has been another turnaround stock that just never turned around. The company was a huge growth engine for investors for much of the 1990's, but it has been under $10 this whole decade and sits close to a $1 now. It has lost money in the last two years and Wall Street expects losses to continue for the next two years. It has over 5,000 stores and yet it doesn't cover the entire U.S.