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Sears Loss Widens as U.S. Shoppers Shun Appliances

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Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Sears Holdings Corp., the largest U.S. department-store chain, said its third-quarter loss widened as consumers remained cautious amid high levels of unemployment.

The net loss was $218 million, or $1.98 a share in the quarter ended Oct. 30, compared with $127 million, or $1.09, a year earlier, the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company said today in a statement. Excluding some items, the loss was $1.71 a share, compared with the $1.11 average estimate of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Sears, led by interim Chief Executive Officer W. Bruce Johnson, has seen its appliances and home-improvement categories suffer since the expiration of tax credits for first-time U.S. homebuyers in April. Total sales dropped 5 percent to $9.7 billion in the quarter as shoppers stayed away from appliances, seasonal apparel and electronics.

Sales at domestic Sears stores open at least 12 months fell 8.2 percent, while Kmart same-store sales decreased 0.7 percent.

Macy’s Inc., the second-largest U.S. department-store chain, said sales rose 6.6 percent in the third quarter. Discounters like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. reported revenue growth of about 3 percent.

Sears fell $2.50, or 3.8 percent, to $63.70 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, the lowest level since Aug. 31. The shares have lost 24 percent so far this year.

The company will open its Sears stores on Thanksgiving Day for the first time this year to boost fourth-quarter sales.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Thomson in New York at ithomson2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net