When Kodak made Brownies, folks said, "Cheese!" Now the inventor of the Brownie camera has abandoned consumer photography altogether to focus on imaging for businesses. Kodak, which has staked its future on commercial printing, makes presses and imprinting systems, and technology to print documents, publications, and product packaging for corporate customers. The ailing company filed for bankruptcy in early 2012 after shrinking and restructuring its operations. Kodak emerged from bankruptcy in fall 2013 as a smaller company focused on commercial printing.


In its January 2012 bankruptcy filing, Kodak listed more than 100,000 creditors and debts totaling $6.75 billion. The Bank of New York Mellon, which serves as a trustee for other bondholders, is its top creditor with claims of more than $650 million. There are some well-known companies on the list, such as SonyNokiaWal-MartTargetBest BuyOfficeMaxDisney Studios, and CVS Caremark. On the plus side, Kodak's more than $5 billion in assets include properties in New York, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, Kodak had been shopping a treasure trove of more than 1,000 patents, or 10% of the company's patent portfolio, that had the potential of generating $3 billion. Its effort, which began in mid-2011, attracted no serious suitors.

It hasn't helped Kodak's turnaround efforts that during the past few years consumers and companies, faced with a down economy, have been reluctant to spend. To spur sales, the photography company has been developing several areas of its business. Its growth initiatives include boosting its consumer inkjet unit, commercial inkjet business, workflow software and services, and packaging solutions. Investing in these areas has helped Kodak post positive results. Associated product lines logged revenue gains of 18%.

Licensing has been a big business for Kodak, too. As much as it would like to ink any deal that comes across its desk, its objectives for this segment include maintaining design freedom, gaining entry into new markets and partnership, and generating cash.

The company benefits most from revenue increases when it's also working diligently to cut costs. Indeed, Kodak's restructuring efforts in 2010 have offered some $62 million in annual cash savings. As part of its shift to digital, Kodak purged some 30,000 employees, shedding 17% of its global workforce. Half of those laid off were located in the US, where Kodak generates about a third of its revenue.

In 2012 Kodak reported revenue of about $4.1 billion, down 20% from 2011 (which itself was down 14% from the prior year). The company saw a decline across all product and geographic segments, driven primarily by reduced demand. Its net loss of $1.4 billion was a drop from a $764 million loss the prior year.

The shift to newer, more popular, and more profitable technologies has brought an ebb and flow to Kodak's operations. In an effort to streamline its film-finishing business, Kodak in 2010 sold the assets and operations of Laser Pacific Media, its Emmy Award-winning post-production subsidiary, to investment firm H.I.G. Capital. The company also sold its organic light-emitting diode (OLED) business to LG Electronics. As part of the agreement, LG's OLED patents and developments will be accessible to Kodak as they pertain to its own product line.

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