Sears posts surge in profits


CHICAGO -- Sears, Roebuck and Co., slimming operations to concentrate on its core retail business, said third-quarter results surged on improvement at its insurance and merchandising units.

Sears posted profit of $372.9 million, or 94 cents a share, compared with a loss of $853.8 million, or $2.30 a share, a year ago.

The year-ago loss stemmed from charges from insurance claims after Hurricane Andrew, Sears said.

In the latest quarter, an $81 million tax gain and a $65.5 million charge from the early payment of debt resulted in net income of $388.4 million, or 98 cents a share.

The charge was for calling a $300 million 7 percent deep-discount bond issue, which the company said will reduce interest costs.

Sears shares closed up $1 at $59 a share.

Sears, the nation's No. 3 retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kmart Corp., beat Wall Street projections by 17 cents.

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