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Lampert Loses $467 Million After Sears Stock Plunges

Lampert Loses as Much as $639 Million After Sears Stock Plunges
Sears Holdings Corp. reported a first-quarter loss of $279 million, compared with a profit of $189 million a year earlier. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- Edward Lampert, the hedge-fund manager who took over as chief executive officer of Sears Holdings Corp. this year, saw the value of his controlling stake fall $467 million today after a first-quarter loss at the retailer prompted the biggest stock decline in six months.

Sears tumbled 14 percent to close at $50.25 in New York trading, its biggest drop since Nov. 16. The shares had risen 40.6 percent since the start of this year through yesterday.

Sears reported a first-quarter loss of $279 million, compared with a profit of $189 million a year earlier, as costs related to store closings and severance expenses hurt earnings, the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company said yesterday. Lampert, who took control of Sears in 2005 after engineering its purchase by discount-retailer Kmart Holdings Corp., in February replaced Lou D’Ambrosio as CEO. Lampert became the company’s fifth CEO since merging the two companies eight years ago.

D’Ambrosio cut inventory and debt and focused on analyzing data from the company’s tens of millions of loyalty-program customers to boost sales. He stepped down after less than two years for a family health matter.

Lampert said in a statement yesterday that the company’s performance “has not been acceptable.” Since the beginning of last year, Sears has sold stores and spun off smaller-format locations as Lampert puts an increased emphasis on the customer rewards program, saying the retailer’s future is as a “membership company.” More than half of the Sears’s sales come from customers in its loyalty program.

$1 Salary

Lampert, together with his hedge funds, held about 55 percent, or 58.9 million shares of Sears, as of April 30, according to regulatory filings. Today’s decline in shares reduced the value of Lampert’s holding to about $2.96 billion from $3.43 billion.

Lampert agreed to serve as CEO on a salary of $1 a year, effective Feb. 1, according to a regulatory filing in March. During the first three years of his tenure, he’ll participate in the company’s annual incentive plan with a target payout of $2 million a year. Lampert will also receive $4.5 million in Sears stock a year, according to the filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Carey in New York at dcarey13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net

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