Tags: US | Kodak | Investors

Kodak Says Lower Costs, Printing to Boost Earnings

Thursday, 04 Feb 2010 02:46 PM

Eastman Kodak Co. said Thursday it expects improved earnings this year, driven by its digital printer businesses and leaner costs from years of restructuring.

But investors appeared unimpressed with the forecasts, sending its shares sharply lower a day after they briefly touched a 52-week high.

At its annual investor meeting, the picture-taking pioneer said it expects digital sales to grow between 5 percent and 9 percent in 2010. Offset by a more moderate drop in traditional film-based revenue, projected sales overall will be flat to 1 percent higher in contrast with a 19 percent slump in 2009.

Kodak said net earnings from continuing operations will range between a loss of $50 million and a profit of $50 million, which would work out to about 19 cents a share in either case. The company lost $210 million, or 78 cents a share, in 2009.

Sales will reach $7.5 billion to $7.7 billion, versus $7.6 billion in 2009, Kodak said. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for revenue of $7.66 billion.

Analysts, whose estimates typically exclude one-time items, expect on average that Kodak will earn 74 cents a share this year.

Kodak shares, which hit a 52-week high of $6.94 during trading Wednesday, fell 74 cents, or 10.8 percent, to $6.09 in afternoon trading Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 200 points in afternoon trading.

Ulysses Yannas, a broker with Buckman, Buckman & Reid in New York, attributed the drop to the broader market's slide Thursday. "When a stock goes up 40 percent in two or three days and the market takes a dive, it's normal for it to be down," he said.

Kodak broke a series of four straight quarterly losses with a $443 million profit in the last three months of 2009. Its results, posted Jan. 28, were lifted by consumer and commercial inkjet printer sales and big licensing gains from its rich array of digital-imaging inventions.

"We feel that even with a so-so economy, we're going to have a much improved 2010," Perez said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.

"We look at the U.S. economy growing by 2 percent," Perez said. "You can hear ... economists and politicians actually talking about 3.9 percent, 4 percent. If it happens, it will be great for us, but we're planning on what we think is a conservative 2 percent."

The 129-year-old Rochester-based company pared its payroll from 64,000 to 26,900 during a mammoth overhaul from 2004 to 2007. It eliminated another 4,100 jobs last year, shrinking its work force to a 1930s-era low of 20,300 from a 1988 peak of 145,300.

Kodak has sold 2.1 million home printers launched in 2007 with a head-turning formula: The inkjet machines produce vibrant color photographs lasting a lifetime using ink cartridges far cheaper than the competition's.

This year, it expects to double sales of ink — the lucrative ingredient in its long-term push to find a high-profit replacement for its rapidly fading photo film business.

Yannas estimates sales in the consumer inkjet business doubled in 2009 to more than $200 million, nearly half of which was revenue from ink and paper.

"It's peanuts for them for the time being, but it builds up fast," said Yannas, who expects Kodak to hit $1 billion in consumer inkjet sales by 2012.

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Eastman Kodak Co. said Thursday it expects improved earnings this year, driven by its digital printer businesses and leaner costs from years of restructuring.But investors appeared unimpressed with the forecasts, sending its shares sharply lower a day after they briefly...
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