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Sears Holdings meets low expectations in Q1

BY Gail Hoffer

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart parent company Sears Holdings reported a first-quarter net loss of $170 million, or $1.58 per diluted share, in line with the company’s expectations for a net loss in the range of $145 million to $195 million, or between $1.35 and $1.81 per diluted share.

The company reported 2010 net income of $16 million, or 14 cents per diluted share.

Sears Holdings said that total revenues decreased $341 million to $9.7 billion for the quarter, as compared with total revenues of $10 billion for the same period last year. The decline in total revenue for the quarter primarily was a result of a 3.6% decrease in domestic comparable-store sales and the effect of having fewer Kmart and Sears full-line stores in operation, in addition to a 9.2% decline in comparable-store sales at Sears Canada, partially offset by an increase of $54 million due to changes in the Canadian foreign exchange rate.

The domestic comparable-store sales results included a decrease at Kmart of 1.6%. The Kmart quarterly decrease in comparable-store sales primarily was driven by decreases in the food and consumables and pharmacy categories.

"Our first quarter was adversely impacted by unfavorable weather, economic pressures facing our customers and comparisons to last year’s government-sponsored stimulus program relating to the purchase of appliances. However, we also fell short on executing with excellence. We cannot control the weather or economy or government spending, but we can control how we execute and leverage the potent set of assets we have," said Lou D’Ambrosio, Sears Holdings president and CEO.

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Nielsen finds consumers are less worried about rising gas prices than in 2008

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Consumers today are a lot less skittish about rising gas prices than they were in 2008, Nielsen reported.

“Unlike 2008, when the average price for regular gas jumped above $4 a gallon, today’s improving job market and strengthening economy are helping consumers cope better than during this recent economic downturn,” wrote Todd Hale, SVP consumer and shopper insights for Nielsen, in a report released Thursday.

Trip compression, however, continues to dominate as a key strategy for 67% of households looking to save on high gas prices. And while this level is down from 2008 levels (78%), it is up four percentage points from last year. Additionally, nearly half of consumers (46%) will continue to seek lower-priced gas stations and eat out less (45%), and more than one-third (36%) said they will shop closer to home to offset high prices at the pump. Coupon clipping also is part of the gas-price offset strategy for 36% of households in 2011 — up four percentage points from 2008.

Also in decline were saving strategies consumers deploy to lower costs: 21% said they are shopping more at supercenters, which is down eight and five percentage points from 2008 and 2010, respectively. Currently, 12% said they are buying larger economy sizes — down four percentage points, compared with 2008 and 2010 — while 10% said they are shopping at warehouse clubs — down three percentage points from 2008 and 2010.

More savvy shoppers are taking advantage of incentive programs linked to grocery spending to buy gas; 28% of consumers said they are using their grocery shopper loyalty cards to save up to 10, 20 and 30 cents on a gallon of gas by redeeming points at participating gas stations. This savings not only is helping to take the pain out of the pump for consumers, but it also is helping to drive traffic for retailers.

To access the report, click here.

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Adflow Health Networks announces full-scale deployment of Personal Health Center

BY Allison Cerra

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. — Adflow Health Networks announced a large-scale deployment of its consumer health platform.

Adflow Health Networks’ Personal Health Center, an interactive digital media platform, provides consumers with access to trusted healthcare content and services, together with the ability to perform a wide range of Food and Drug Administration-cleared screenings, Adflow Health said. The full-scale deployment includes implementation across retail locations, worksites and high traffic areas.

Adflow Health Networks said the full-scale deployment would be aided by a strategic investment from a Fortune 100 healthcare company that declined to be named.

"This strategic relationship positions Adflow Health to set the standard for consumer health engagement solutions to consumers, retailers, employers, health plans and consumer marketers," Adflow Health Networks CEO Mel Stein said. "The strategic and operational alignment of our companies allows us to accelerate the deployment of our digital health platforms replacing antiquated analog kiosks, which serve more than 140 million Americans annually. We have reached an inflection point in the personal health management market and it is time for innovative technology to bring the consumer, caregivers, commerce and content together in convenient locations across the country."

Stein said assistance from the company’s strategic adviser and merchant banking partner, BPC Group, and its investment bank, Bryant Park Capital, was "immeasurable in forming the value proposition for our company, which was only a concept when Bryant Park was engaged."

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