Sears Buyback & Bear Stearns Incompetence

After recommending investors buy Northwest Airlines (NWAC) stock at $5.00 less than a month ago, today Bear Streans downgraded the stock to a sell, after yesterday’s bankruptcy rumors sent the stock down as much as 60 percent to $1.57 per share. Amazingly (well, maybe not given this analyst’s track record) NWAC stock is up 25 percent today as some investors bet Northwest will temporarily avoid filing Chapter 11 this week by using that possiblity to reach an agreement with its mechanics on wage consessions. It would be hilarious if Bear’s sell call marked the bottom in NWAC and the stock actually rose significantly after news of a deal. At that point, Bear would probably upgrade the stock just in time for the company to file bankruptcy.

Although the stock isn’t really reacting to the news, Sears Holdings (SHLD) today announced a $500 million stock repurchase plan. This represents 2.3% of the company’s total shares outstanding. These are the kinds of things SHLD management will do to enhance shareholder value through the use of its free cash flow. They will not use the money to mimic other retailers that open new stores. Rather they will try and increase the profitability of existing stores and use that money to boost the stock price.