Rochester, N.Y. • Shares of photography pioneer Eastman Kodak Co. tumbled to an all-time low Wednesday after a report that the ailing company is getting ready to seek bankruptcy court protection.
The Wall Street Journal, quoting unidentified people familiar with the matter, said Kodak was preparing for a Chapter 11 filing “in the coming weeks” should efforts to sell a trove of digital-imaging patents fall through.
In July, Kodak began shopping around 1,100 digital-imaging patents that financial analysts think might fetch $2 billion to $3 billion.
Kodak’s stock dropped 18 cents, or 28.2 percent, to 47 cents at its close Wednesday. It hit its previous trading low of 54 cents on Sept. 30 when word leaked that it had hired a law firm that advises companies on bankruptcy and restructuring options.
The New York Stock Exchange warned Kodak this week that its shares would be delisted if they stay below $1 for six more months.
The Journal said Kodak is in discussions with potential lenders for around $1 billion in loans called “debtor-in possession financing” that would keep it afloat during a bankruptcy process. The newspaper said a bankruptcy filing could occur this month or early in February.
A Kodak spokesman said the company does not comment on speculation.
Kodak warned in a securities filing in November that it could run out of cash within a year unless it can sell its digital-imaging patents or raise money selling debt. Its revenue has tumbled because of slowing demand for traditional film and competition in digital cameras and printers from Canon Inc. and Hewlett- Packard Co
The cautionary statement came as Kodak reported a third-quarter loss of $222 million and said its cash reserves fell almost 10 percent over the year.
Three members of Kodak’s board of directors have resigned in the past two weeks.
The latest to relinquish her post was economist Laura Tyson, a former dean of the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
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