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Ahead of annual meeting, Sears predicts Q1 income growth

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Ahead of its annual shareholders' meeting, Sears Holdings has provided first-quarter guidance calling for net income between $155 million and $195 million (between $1.46 and $1.84 per diluted share from continuing operations) versus a net loss from continuing operations of $165 million ($1.53 loss per diluted share from continuing operations), for the first quarter in 2011.  The above range includes approximately $235 million, after tax and minority interest, of gains from the sale of certain U.S. and Canadian stores. These transactions generated $440 million of cash proceeds.

For the first quarter, Sears Holdings reported a total same-store sales decline of 1.3%. Comps were down 1% and 1.6% at its domestic and Kmart units, respectively.

The sales decline at Sears' domestic unit were offset by double-digit increases in its apparel and footwear categories. These increases were offset by declines in the appliances and consumer electronics categories.  Kmart's comparable-store sales decrease reflects increases in the apparel and footwear categories, offset by declines in the consumer electronics category.

Sears Canada expects to report a comparable store sales decline of 6.2% for the quarter. The decline is primarily due to sales decreases in electronics, home decor, hardware and apparel, partially offset by increases in major appliances and mattresses.

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