The first round of bids for the Sears credit card portfolio are expected this week. Among those considered bidders: GE, Citigroup, and HSBC. Sears announced in late March that it is looking to unload its $29.6 billion credit card portfolio. The company says that even though its credit card business generated more than $1.5 billion of operating income last year, and produced more than 60% of total profits, it wants to focus on its core retail business. Sears’ Retail-related businesses delivered $1.2 billion in operating income in 2002. Sears’ Credit-related business includes $17.2 billion in “Sears Card” receivables, as well as $12.4 billion in MasterCard receivables. The company has 25 million active accounts, according to CardData. In the first quarter, net charge-offs rose to 6.11% compared to 5.43% one year ago. Delinquency also increased from 7.31% for 1Q/02 to 7.87% for the first quarter of this year. Sears also reported that its net interest margin dropped from 14.69% to 13.75% and that its yield on all credit cards declined from 18.64% for 1Q/02, to 16.94% for 1Q/03. For complete details on Sears first quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).