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Sears shareholder exiting; Third Avenue fund sells 250,000 shares

July 21, 2006

Since engineering the combination of Sears and Kmart last year, billionaire Edward Lampert has tried to convince investors that he intends to run the new company as a retailer.

Wall Street, for the most part, has turned a deaf ear, betting that Lampert will turn Sears Holdings Corp.'s massive real estate holdings into cash.

Perhaps he will, eventually. But one prominent real estate investor isn't waiting around to find out.

Michael H. Winer, portfolio manager of Third Avenue Real Estate Value Fund, cut his fund's Sears stake roughly by half in the quarter ended April 30 and expects to liquidate the rest of the holdings in January, according to Third Avenue's second-quarter letter to shareholders mailed in June. He sold 250,000 shares worth roughly $35 million.

The reason: a combination of an "attractive price"--about $140 a share; a fourteenfold increase from what the fund paid for them--and "our view that the company should be valued as a going concern, as opposed to the theoretical liquidation value," Winer wrote.

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