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 user 2007-05-08 at 12:15:00 pm Views: 35
  • #18154

    Kodak shares sink on quarterly loss
    ROCHESTER, N.Y.- Eastman Kodak Co. posted a smaller first-quarter loss Friday—its ninth quarterly deficit in the last 2 1/2 years—as it applies the final cost-cutting touches to a drastic digital makeover. The results still missed Wall Street expectations and its shares dipped nearly 5 percent.The photography company lost $151 million, or 53 cents a share, in the January-March period versus a loss of $298 million, or $1.04 a share, a year ago when it took hefty charges tied to its massive overhaul.Sales fell 8 percent to $2.12 billion from $2.89 billion a year ago, hurt by Kodak’s move away from lower-priced cameras in favor of marketing pricier but more profitable models.Its overall digital sales fell 3 percent to $1.2 billion, while revenues from film, paper and other traditional, chemical-based businesses slumped 13 percent to $896 million.Excluding one-time items totaling $76 million, or 26 cents a share, Kodak lost $98 million, or 35 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had forecast a loss of 2 cents a share on sales of $2.1 billion.

    In last year’s first quarter, Kodak’s operating loss was $157 million, or 55 cents a share.
    Its shares fell $1.25, or 4.8 percent, to $24.72 Friday. They have traded in a 52-week range of $18.93 to $27.57.Now in the final stretch of a costly four-year shift away from its shrinking film business and into the highly competitive digital arena, Kodak has piled up $2.7 billion in restructuring charges and accumulated $2.1 billion in net losses over the last 10 quarters.Cost-cutting “is working and it’s progressing fast,” with costs dropping to 19 percent of revenues from 22 percent a year ago, said Ulysses Yannas, a broker with Buckman, Buckman & Reid in New York.”It’s been an awful four years,” he said. “That’s what happens when you make some mistakes in the past.”

    Many analysts think Kodak waited too long to acknowledge its analog businesses were in an irreversible slump. In September 2003, it finally outlined an ambitious strategy to become a digital heavyweight in photography and commercial printing by 2008.Kodak formally wrapped up the $2.35 billion sale of its 110-year-old health-imaging business to Canadian investment firm Onex Corp. on Monday. It has already paid down $1.15 billion in debt and plans to funnel some of the remaining cash into inkjet printers and other new digital ventures.The company said its trio of home printers, unveiled in February, produce documents and photos using ink cartridges that cost roughly half as much as the competition’s. Analysts think the move could trigger a price war in a market dominated by Hewlett-Packard Co.”Our new consumer inkjet business model has created a very attractive opportunity for Kodak and I intend to aggressively pursue it,” Chief Executive Antonio Perez, who helped develop HP’s lucrative inkjet-printer division, said in a conference call with analysts.Encouraged by consumer demand, Perez said he’ll sink up to $50 million more in the printer business this year—on top of about $400 million already invested. He expects to ship at least a half-million inkjet printers by year-end.That largely prompted Kodak to cut its full-year forecast for digital operating profits to $150 million to $200 million from an earlier range of $200 million to $300 million. Digital sales in 2007 were still expected to grow by 3 percent to 5 percent, it said.In February, the picture-taking pioneer said it was eliminating 3,000 more jobs—bringing its planned tally of layoffs to 28,000 to 30,000 since 2004. By year-end, its work force will slip below 30,000, less than half what it was just three years ago. Its work force peaked at 145,300 in 1988.Sales of consumer digital imaging products fell 14 percent to $778 million largely because of its emphasis on improving digital profit margins. Graphic communications sales eased 1 percent to $864 million.

    Film products sales fell 8 percent to $458 million, a much smaller drop than in previous quarter as sales in its entertainment imaging unit rose 8 percent.”Entertainment film is obviously of huge importance for them from a cash standpoint,” said analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research in Short Hills, N.J.”For now, you’ve got a situation where your fundamentals are relatively weak but there’s still some future hope from the standpoint of entertainment not rolling over yet and inkjet. A lot of the long-term value-oriented shareholders are going to look past this quarter and look to the new opportunities as opposed to selling the stock right now.”