Copying the style of his idol Warren Buffett, Edward S. Lampert has chosen over the years to weigh in on the state of Sears Holdings Corp. in written form. His letters, mostly to shareholders but sometimes to company associates, are usually long and varied and together add up to nearly 50,000 words. They leap from the topic of the day — Hurricane Katrina, financial regulation or the 2008 Super Bowl champs — to issues of recurring interest, including the value of media commentators and Lampert’s own iconoclastic philosophy on investing in stores. Most of the letters end in the same way, “Respectfully, Edward S. Lampert.” Here is Lampert in his own words.
June 7, 2005 We will opportunistically pursue investments in, and acquisitions of, other companies, joint ventures and strategic alliances. We believe that we will have significant opportunities in the years ahead to create value through a combination of better operating performance and disciplined use of our capital and balance sheet. September 8, 2005 Greatness requires the ability to change and adapt; we are just beginning....We understand that change engenders criticism and uncertainty, but we also understand that we may need to make changes both to our approach and to our resources to demonstrate with clarity the seriousness of our purpose and the strength of our vision. We know we cannot please everybody, but we believe that people generally value clarity and consistency. December 6, 2005 Being a learning company also means appreciating frankness and being willing to recognize where our ideas have not played out as expected — so that we can refine and change course. This quarter’s performance in Sears apparel is one example of this….Sears attempted to move its apparel offering to be more “fashion forward,” relying on the introduction of new proprietary brands. Customers have not yet embraced the new, more fashion-forward brands. In addition, an unseasonably cool spring and warm fall depressed apparel sales throughout the industry.
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