Sears Holdings Corp.'s days are numbered. How much time the parent company of retailing chains Sears and Kmart has is undetermined--for now anyway. But it's pretty clear that Edward Lampert, the stressed-out Sears investor and hedge fund manager, is dressing up the company for a partial or outright asset sale.
Why else would he reorganize Sears into five stand-alone units--operating businesses, support businesses, brands, online and real estate?
Such a strategy has virtually no operational or managerial basis, especially for a troubled retailer that's going shopping for a new CEO to replace Aylwin Lewis, who today announced he's leaving Sears.
The new approach does, however, enable Lampert to more effectively showcase each business operation for potential buyers.
Nobody wants to buy all of Hoffman-Estates-based Sears Holdings, but outside investors and companies may be enticed to acquire a piece of the action, provided these units have the potential to become stand-alone companies or can be seamlessly integrated into a larger firm's structure.
Who knows? Maybe some retail rival will acquire Sears' online properties or brands, while commercial real estate players make a run at Sears' massive property holdings?
Not that long ago, investors lined up to buy Sears stock, often on a hunch that the company's break-up value was greater than the whole. Many of them have lost money waiting for the Lampert bust-up to get underway.
Here's betting they won't have to wait much longer.
Admirers once called Lampert the second Warren Buffett. Soon, they'll label him Lampert the Liquidator.