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Todd Sullivan
Todd Sullivan

Sears Real Estate: How Sears Got This Property

December 24, 2013 | About:

Much has been written about SHLD and its CRE holdings. I like to boil things down to their most basic as less gets lost in the minutia. A reader sent this to me and after going through the math, it look sound. Remember when you read this that Sears in its entirety is now only worth $4.7B and remember this quote:

Sandeep Lakhmi Mathrani – Chief Executive Officer and Director- GGP

And one last comment is we don’t anticipate there should be any meaningful supply in the mall space. We may see a handful of malls being built in the next decade.
Where is GGP going to get growth from? We’ve already seem SPG spinning off assets to shareholders in order to fuel returns for them ( GGP did this when they spun off RSE ). GGP has spent the last couple years fixing operations post Chapter 11 but once this is done, where do they go for growth? New malls are not being developed and those who own good Class A Regional malls are not selling. Further, there is only so much existing structures can do to create shareholder value. The only legitimate place for them to go to acquire more CRE is SHLD . You’ll notice on last year’s 10K pg 18 of the 126 malls listed by GGP , Sears is an anchor in almost all of them (the 126 number includes JV interests of GGP).

It isn’t an outrageous proposition as the two already did this last year.

From a Reader (How Sears got this property):

“By 1971, Homart was operating nine regional shopping locations, and had numerous others in development. It became the nation’s second largest mall developer, and by 1992 it was reported that Homart had developed 80 malls with over 75,000,000 square feet (7,000,000 m2) of retail space. By 1994, it was also operating 36 of those developed malls.

“In November 1994, Sears announced that it planned to sell off Homart as part of a restructuring. General Growth Properties completed an acquisition of Homart in late 1995 in a transaction valued at $1.85 billion, then one of the biggest real estate deals in history. Homart also owned a number of office buildings which were also sold in 1995.”

Sears owns a huge amount of space in GGP malls: an anchor in 87 of them, accounting for over 12 million sq. ft., virtually all of which is owned.

Consider that Sears isn’t listed as one of GGP’s top 10 tenants (because virtually nothing is leased); yet the 10th largest tenant, Genesco (the owner of Journey’s and Lids) only leases 500,000 sq. ft.

Buying all of Sears is effectively buying a 20% interest in GGP alone, given the owned space and respective stock valuations. That’s why I say it’s like an arbitrage. This doesn’t include any other assets, operating businesses, or space in other malls like Simon.

What’s a 20% interest in GGP worth? — $3.7 billion at today’s price.
Note, this ignores SHLD space in SPG malls of which Sears has a presence in ~130 of them. the above holds true for SPG . the easiest way for them to acquire more CRE to develop is to simply buy the Sears locations in their malls…

I think this is what Berkowitz was referring to when he spoke of Sears RE and said

The argument is then that kills the retail side of Sears. To the contrary I think it frees it. It frees its major brands Craftsmen, Kenmore and Diehard to be sold in every HD and LOW across the US. Those brands are already set up to license the products so to start this would involve minimal time and energy. Lands End ( LE ) is already in the process of being spun so that brand one can argue will do better outside of Sears vs trapped inside the retail operations of it.

In this scenario you have a huge capital infusion to Lampert/Berkowitz, a massive cost deleveraging and an asset light model with some of the most recognized brands in their prospective fields.


About the author:

Todd Sullivan
Charlie Tian, Ph.D. - Founder of GuruFocus. You can now order his book Invest Like a Guru on Amazon.

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