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Sears hops on Alexa bandwagon in move to spruce up appliances

Sears faces financial troubles

Sears will begin selling Kenmore appliances on, including smart appliances that can be synced with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa.

The announcement before the opening bell Thursday sent shares of Sears soaring more than 19 percent in morning trade. 

Sears (SHLD), which also owns Kmart, says that its Kenmore Smart appliances will be fully integrated with Amazon's (AMZN) Alexa, allowing users to fully control things like air conditioners through voice commands. 

The deal comes after a string of troubles for Sears, which has lost ground to rivals ranging from Walmart to and has relied on a combination of asset sales such as its Land's End clothing and Craftsman tool lines as financial lifelines. The chain has considering selling additional lines, including its DieHard car batteries and Kenmore appliances businesses, and is unloading its vast real estate holdings. 

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"Voice is a natural interface for the smart home, so we're thrilled that customers can now simply ask Alexa to interact with their Kenmore Smart appliances," said Charlie Kindel, Director of Alexa Smart Home, in a statement. "We're excited that Kenmore has added Alexa functionality to these products and we think customers will love the convenience of cooling their home, starting their laundry, and more, using only their voice."

The agreement opens up a vast new marketplace for Sears and its appliances.

Shares of Sears Holdings jumped more than $1.69, or 19.3 percent, to $10.36 in early trade.

Sears's woes have forced the company, which dates to the 19th century, to shutter more than 150 stores, including numerous Kmart outlets, this year in a move to cut costs.  The company said in May that its restructuring moves are aimed at saving $1.25 billion a year.

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Sears's turnaround plan has helped stanch the red ink. In its last quarter, Sears notched its first profit since 2015, reporting net income of $244 million on revenue of $4.3 billion, compared with a loss of $471 million on sales of $5.4 billion in the year-ago quarter. The period was boosted by the March sale of Craftsman to Stanley Black & Decker for $525 million.

As a measure of how far Sears has fallen, in 2007 its shares topped $190.

Still, the company's sales have continued to shrink in recent years. For the trailing 12 months ending in April, Sears had total revenue of roughly $21 billion, less than half of what it raked in a decade ago.

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