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 user 2009-02-03 at 4:46:51 pm Views: 48
  • #21549

    Home inkjet printer bright spot for Kodak
    Eastman Kodak Co., which knows very well about making motion picture film and digital cameras, in 2007 jumped into an entirely new product line of inkjet printers for the home.
    While the company is trying to force its way into a crowded marketplace — as evidenced by the numerous printers available at any Best Buy store — Kodak’s All-in-One inkjet printers are moving off the shelves at an increasing clip.

    Sales of the All-in-One, which is manufactured overseas for the Rochester-based company, constituted a piece of positive news from Kodak this week as it announced a fourth-quarter loss, a drop in overall sales and plans for a new round of layoffs worldwide.”Despite the external challenges, there were many positive signs,” Chief Executive Antonio M. Perez told investment analysts Thursday.The bits of good news were heavily outweighed by the bad, including word that Kodak will eliminate 1,300 Rochester-area jobs by spring.Kodak stock continued to lose value Friday, closing at $4.53, down 46 cents, or more than 9 percent.

    On Thursday, Kodak shares plunged close to 30 percent.Also on Friday, credit rating agency Fitch Ratings downgraded its evaluation of Kodak based on expectations that the company’s profits would continue to fall through 2009.Kodak jumped into the home inkjet printer market with a goal of selling 500,000 in 2007.It ended up moving 520,000 units that year, with consumers buying 320,000 of them.In 2008, it moved 780,000 units to retailers, with consumers buying 730,000.The All-in-One line retails for $100 to $300 each.

    For the fourth quarter of 2008, All-in-One sales were off slightly as consumer spending everywhere dried up.However, those million-plus printers on desks worldwide continue to generate money for Kodak in the form of high-profit-margin consumables such as ink cartridges and photo paper, said company spokesman David Lanzillo.And users go through, on average, eight inkjet cartridges a year — higher than the industry average.Kodak’s consumer inkjet revenue grew 32 percent during 2008, though it didn’t say whether the product was profitable.In the past, the company has said it would take several years before the costs of starting up the product line were recouped.

    Among other high points in the company’s 2008 results:
    Kodak’s Stream commercial inkjet print system will hit the market later this year.The company has been working on Stream technology, a digital printing process with extremely high quality reproduction capabilities, for about 10 years.

    While a Stream printer won’t be commercially available until 2010, Perez said, the Stream print head will be available late this year.The company announced earlier this month that it has its first customer for Stream print heads, an Ohio commercial printer, lined up.Although other business groups’ revenues were down by double-digit percentages in 2008, Kodak’s graphic communications group sales dipped only 2 percent because of demand for plates for digital printing presses, said Chief Financial Officer Frank Sklarsky.