Eddie Lampert
Eddie Lampert

Eddie Lampert looked like he was on top of the world in 2004 when he was still planning to merge giant retailers Kmart and Sears. Bloomberg BusinessWeek dubbed Lampert "the next Warren Buffett," comparing his investment in the flagging Sears to Buffett's purchase of the textile company Berkshire Hathaway, which was losing money before Buffett bought it.

During Lampert's heyday in 2004, his hedge fund ESL Investments had had a 15-year run of 30% average annual returns. Kmart, which had just crawled out of bankruptcy in 2003, had a 300% jump in stock price thanks to Lampert's investment. Two years later, Fortune called Lampert, "the best investor of his generation" and "the Steve Jobs of investing."

But Lampert's investment in the Sears-Kmart combo has been a dog, not a Dairy Queen. As of May 4, 2011, same-store sales at Sears had dropped every year for a decade. Lampert's 2010 annual letter to Sears shareholders stated, "Our financial results remain at unacceptable levels," a line Berkshire shareholders seldom encounter.

Last updated June 01 2011: 2:01 PM ET

It's one step forward and two steps back in today's upside-down economy. From strong corporate earnings to a manufacturing rebound, everything that's going right in the economy has too many negative factors underlying it. More

From offering unlimited vacation and sick leave to allowing you to donate your days to those in need, the following companies have thrown the draconian vacation policies of yore in the dustbin. More

Most Popular

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.