Like many iconic U.S. companies now struggling to thrive, or even just survive, Eastman Kodak (EK) is a former titan rocked by technological changes that fundamentally altered the market for its most important products.
Long one of the world's leading manufacturers of photographic film, Kodak has struggled in the era of digital cameras. And that has forced it to make painful cuts. Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, announced in January that it would slash its workforce by as much as 18%, to fewer than 20,000 employees: roughly the number of workers it had during the Great Depression, and a fraction of the more than 145,000 it employed at its peak in the late 1980s.
All of which has focused attention on the company's finances. In March, credit ratings firm Moody's listed Kodak among 283 companies on its "bottom rung" list of companies most likely to default on their debt, a characterization Kodak rejects. "Any speculation, however informed, suggesting that Kodak is less than financially sound, is irresponsible," spokesman David Lanzillo said in a statement.
That may be, but investors have taken a dim view of the company's prospects of late, sending its stock down 60 percent so far this year, compared with a 1.8 percent gain for the S&P 500 through May 29.
Tim Catts is a writer for DailyFinance. You can follow him on Twitter at timcatts.
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