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Sears reports bigger-than-expected 1Q loss

NEW YORK — Sears Holdings Corp. reported a steeper-than-expected loss for its first quarter, with the beleaguered retailer blaming a cooler spring for falling sales.

The operator of Sears and Kmart stores said it’s considering strategic options for its service-agreement business, such as selling it, to raise cash. With service agreements, customers pay a fee when buying an appliance and the company agrees to fix or replace it if it breaks within a certain time.

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The news, more than three months after hedge fund billionaire and Sears chairman Eddie Lampert took over as chief executive, sent the stock down almost 13 percent to $50.74.

For the quarter, sales at stores open at least a year fell 3.6 percent, with the company noting that much of the country experienced a cooler spring than last year.

The company has posted six straight years of declining sales at stores open at least a year. Last year, Sears announced plans to restore profitability by aggressively cutting costs, reducing inventory, selling off some assets, and spinning off others. It has also been making changes in stores, such as giving iPads and iPod Touch devices to sales staff to research products and help customers on the sales floor.

But critics have long said the company hasn’t done enough.

For the quarter, Sears lost $279 million, or $2.63 per share.

Revenue fell 9 percent to $8.45 billion, above the $8.37 billion Wall Street expected.

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