People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Stepping Back In Time

A bit of history you may not know:

Kmart, once a powerhouse in the discount retail business, had its origins in the "five-and-dime" world where Woolworth's was the place to go to buy relatively inexpensive merchandise at a reasonable price. Kmart Corp., now Sears Holdings, was originally known as the SS Kresge Company and operated Kresge dime stores around the country. No deep discounting. No mass merchandising. No worries about crowd control. Just moderate inventories of low-end stuff.

It seems, sadly, that Kmart has reverted to its origins:
Sears Isn't Decking the Halls, But Investors Are Cheery

For shoppers preparing for Christmas, Sears is touting sales on LCD TVs and digital cameras, and Kmart is offering big discounts on toys. But the retailers' chairman has been more Scrooge-like when it comes to spending on stores and employees.

While Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers gussy up their stores for the holiday sales season, Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Edward S. Lampert has stuck to his strategy of cutting payrolls and other expenses, holding down capital spending and trying to reduce unprofitable sales since Kmart bought Sears early this year.

Critics have questioned Mr. Lampert's reluctance to put much money into his stores. But he is defiant. "We will not rely on a single grand strategy, but will respond to customer desires and market opportunities," he wrote yesterday in a letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his preferred method of public communication. (link requires subscription)
Cutting payrolls. It appears Mr. Lampert (whose experience is in hedge fund management, ahem) is succeeding in getting his customer count down to coincide with his lack of customer service.
But both Sears and Kmart continued weak sales trends.

... Kmart's same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, decreased 2.8%, with the biggest declines in home products and electronics. Kmart's apparel usiness did have positive same-store sales. The brand's gross margin rate declined because of increased markdowns.
Some will be surprised that Kmart sales, having hit rock bottom a few years ago, could sink any lower.

But Wall Street analysts and investors, God love 'em, still hold Sears Holdings stock in high regard.
Net income for the quarter ended Oct. 29 dropped 89%, to $58 million, or 35 cents a share, compared with $552 million, or $5.45 a share, in the prior-year period.

Results were better than investors had expected and the retailer's stock price rose sharply. In 4 p.m. Nasdaq trading, Sears shares rose $6.26, or 5.36%, to $122.97.
Which says as much about investors as it does about Lampert's strategy of having no employees - and no customers - in his stores.

Quote Of The Day


Not all the surrender monkeys live in France.

Take Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean — the sedition-mongering former governor of Vermont who once presumed to the presidency and who now is working overtime for a terrorist victory in Iraq.

Once the Democratic Party was led by men of vision and courage — men like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S Truman and John F. Kennedy. All were partisan pols to the core, but they knew the dangers of totalitarianism and reflexively rose above petty place-seeking to inspire America in times of peril.

Today, the party has Dean — as petty a place-seeker as can be found on the planet, and devoid of anything even approaching vision and courage.

"[The] idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," he said Monday. "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don't belong in a conflict like this anyway."

Dean doesn't know what he's talking about ...

Editorial, New York Post, December 7, 2005

That's What I'm Talking About

We are entering a new age. Coal, until recently the scourge of the environmentalist left, is about to be man's - and nature's - best friend. Exciting news in the New York Times:

Pact Signed for Prototype of Coal Plant

MONTREAL, Dec. 6 - Under pressure from other industrialized countries at talks here on global warming, the Bush administration announced on Tuesday that it had signed an agreement with a coalition of energy companies to build a prototype coal-burning power plant with no emissions.

The project, called FutureGen, has been in planning stages since 2003. (link)

I reject the wrong-headed reason for our participation in the signing of this agreement, but the implications are breathtaking. Think of it. A coal-burning power plant with no emissions.

Power plants across the globe are going to need fuel. Mountains and mountains of it.

And I know just where they can get it.