Ackman used seemingly conservative break-up estimates. Yet the $8.5 billion enterprise value he assigned to Sears' U.S. retail real estate both on and off the mall worked out to just $33.05 per square foot, based on an estimated 257 million square feet. The number pales beside the enterprise values per square foot of Sears' various rivals.
Target and Kohl's both boast implied real-estate values of more than $300 a square foot, or around 10 times Sears' number, despite generating cash flow per square foot less than three times that of Sears. Appliance- and tool-heavy Home Depot (HD) and soft-goods-oriented Penney also have per-square-foot numbers that are multiples of Sears', weighing in at $277 and $144 respectively. The comparison gets downright nutty when Sears is compared to, say, the retailing real-estate investment trust Simon Property (SPG), which, according to Ackman, has an implied mall value per square foot of $698.