Kodak Shifts Focus, Zooms In On Commercial Printing

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The photography pioneer Kodak has been dogged by bankruptcy rumors, its stock has tumbled, and its cash reserves have shrunk. But the company says it expects a strong fourth quarter as it fights toward profitability in 2012.

The New Kodak   

“We expect a very good fourth quarter,” said Kodak CEO Antonio Perez.

“All four of our digital growth businesses will expand in the fourth quarter,” Perez said.

But none of those are camera businesses. Kodak even recently sold off its image-sensor division, reportedly for a couple hundred million dollars.

Kodak has long been in the process of a painful transformation that’s seen tens of thousands of Kodak workers in the Rochester area lose their jobs.

When Perez talks about the company’s “digital transformation” and the “new Kodak,” he’s talking about four growth businesses in particular — three of which serve the commercial printing industry.

Perez says, “They will be the nucleus of the new Kodak. “In short, Kodak is becoming a company that makes high-end printing equipment — not a consumer staple whose brand once rivaled Coca-Cola’s in global ubiquity.

Mark Kaufman, an analyst who follows Kodak for Rafferty Capital Markets says: “This is an important quarter,because they’ve actually started to make some inroads in getting the cash on the balance sheet.” Kaufman expects Kodak to finish up the year in relatively decent shape.

An upcoming patent sale could net the company billions. Several of Kodak’s massive, $3 million printing presses will come online in Asia. Once they’re up and running, they run exclusively on Kodak inks and print heads. Kaufman even says a seasonal surge in movie film and catalog printing creates an inflow of cash.

“If you really think about who the end users are,” Kaufman says, “[they’re] more businesses than individual consumers.”

Of the four pillars of the “new Kodak,” only one — desktop inkjet printing — is consumer-oriented.

So long yellow film boxes…

 

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