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No Easy Answers for RadioShack’s Slow, Downward Slide


Back in the day, RadioShack employees would answer the phone by saying, “You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.” But RadioShack now seems stumped, and the “B” word is looming ever larger as the retailer — once a go-to shop for electronic components and, at one point, even Amateur Radio and shortwave receivers — casts about for a white knight. Last March, in the wake of a substantial drop in holiday sales and a big fourth-quarter loss, the Fort Worth, Texas-based RadioShack announced plans to close 1100 of its outlets, leaving the chain with 4000 stores, including more than 900 dealer franchises. The last quarter was more of the same.

According to CNNMoney, though, the retailer has only been able to shutter 200 of those shops — because it costs a lot of money even to close locations, and RadioShack has none to spare. It’s already bleeding cash — some $149 million just this year —in its struggle to board up unprofitable locations and keep its head above the rising waters, and, as CNNMoney reported, credit rating agency Moody’s expects the company’s bank account to run dry within another 12 months. One Wall Street analyst already has warned of impending bankruptcy, and reported this week that the retailer itself has confirmed the likelihood of a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, if it cannot find a buyer or restructure its debt.

The troubled electronics retailer continues to actively seek a substantial cash infusion, which, CNNMoney speculated, could come from its single largest investor, hedge fund Standard General, which owns nearly 10 percent of the company. RadioShack also has been negotiating with lenders, bondholders, shareholders, and landlords about a financial turn-around plan.

RadioShack CEO Joseph Magnacca said in a statement on September 11 that while the company was making progress in its turn-around efforts, “we are actively exploring options for overhauling our balance sheet and are in advanced discussions with a number of parties.” A filing the retailer submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week was far more blunt. In short, it said that if RadioShack cannot sell the firm, partner with another company, or restructure its debt, “we may not have enough cash and working capital to fund our operations beyond the very near term, which raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.” And if Plan A does not work out, the retailer told the SEC, “we would likely be required to liquidate under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.”

Ironically, RadioShack’s stock price initially rose on the news, before dropping below the $1 mark. It was off nearly 25 percent since the beginning of the week.

RadioShack once offered entry-level short-wave receivers, Citizens Band gear, a wide array of discrete components — including transistors, resistors, and capacitors — and, for a time, a fairly popular 2 meter hand-held transceiver and two different models of 10 meter single-band transceivers. It failed in its effort to market a dualband VHF/UHF hand-held radio, however. Over the years, RadioShack has offered fewer discrete components in its brick-and-mortar stores, moving that stock and other products to its online outlet, as it shifted its marketing focus to cell phones, consumer electronics, and various battery-operated gadgets.




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