The photography pioneer emerged this week from bankruptcy to pursue profitability in the tech sector, with a primary focus on imaging for business. Kodak's mission now is to leverage its well-known brand-name, its growing portfolio of B2B products, and its extensive R&D experience.
Over its 130-year history, the iconic company name became so synonymous with photography that "a Kodak moment" is still another way of saying an experience is camera-worthy. But business and profitability took a turn for the worse when digital cameras began to replace traditional film and cameras.
Although Kodak produced the first digital camera, the industry shift to digital imagery took a toll, leaving the company financially challenged over the past two decades, and eventually leading Kodak to file a $6.75 billion bankruptcy in January 2012.
On Tuesday, the bankruptcy cloud was finally lifted, as a bankruptcy court in New York approved Kodak's plan for its new life. Judge Allan Gropper said in a statement that "it will be enormously valuable for the company to get out of Chapter 11 and hopefully begin to regain its position in the pantheon of American business."
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"We have emerged as a technology company serving imaging for business markets -- including packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services," said Kodak CEO Antonio Perez in a statement. "We have been revitalized by our transformation and restructured to become a formidable competitor -- leaner, with a strong capital structure, a healthy balance sheet, and the industry's best technology."
The Kodak CEO told The Wall Street Journal he is "very, very happy today," again citing the company's "great capital structure" and balance sheet.
With its key focus now on high-speed digital printing technology and packaging for consumer goods, Kodak is expected to have revenues of about $2.5 billion. While that's only about half of what it had before it entered Chapter 11, analysts agree the outlook is optimistic.
Over the course of the 20-month bankruptcy proceedings, Kodak sold off many patents to fellow industry titans including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung. Unfortunately, the financial yield was substantially lower than expected. Kodak was looking for more than $2 billion for its 1,100 digital imaging patents, but was only able to generate about $525 million.
In the end, the restructuring plan worked out a pension dispute with company retirees, but wiped out its shareholders. Secured creditors and second-lien noteholders are expected be paid in full, although general unsecured creditors are only expected to receive four or five cents on the dollar. (continued...)