Kodak's Restructuring Develops

Why is it that so many times people take pictures of me, I come out looking like the Goodyear (NYSE: GT  ) blimp? I've lost 20 pounds in the past few years, and people are usually a lot smaller than my six-foot-six-inch frame, so I'll just chalk it up to a bad viewing angle.

One company looking to improve its corporate angle is Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK  ) . The legendary photography company has been taking steps to accelerate its digital imaging strategy as part of a three-year restructuring plan to reduce worldwide employment by 12,000 to 15,000 and to cut square footage 33%. The company announced today that it will slice 600 jobs in the U.K. (by closing one plant and reducing staff at another) and will also eliminate another 270 jobs at its Chalon, France, site.

The consolidation and closure of these manufacturing plants is consistent with similar actions in Kodak's operations in the U.S., Canada, China, Mexico, and Australia. The digital photography craze has been leveraged by companies such as Canon (NYSE: CAJ  ) , Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) , and Fuji (Nasdaq: FUJIY  ) , which all seemed to hop on the digital wave a lot quicker than Kodak.

However, if you want to just look back on Kodak's mistakes, then investing in the company would probably be out of the picture. Wall Street and investors are adept at punishing companies that drive off the road, but they can also be equally as accurate at rewarding hard work and perseverance.

The bottom line is that Kodak has a brand name that is as recognizable as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) , and other well-known, worldwide brands. The company is also zooming into the 21st century by throwing its hat into the infoimaging ring. Infoimaging, which is an industry that is growing 8% to 10% annually, "uses images and technology to improve communication and commerce" (thus creating significant new revenue and market opportunities for businesses around the world). Simply put, customers can purchase digital images to enhance product offerings.

Kodak has also introduced a new $199 EasyShare printer that has the capability to be accessed by Konica Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, and Ricoh digital cameras. There aren't many things easier than taking a picture, plopping the camera down on a docking station, and printing out a color photo.

While Kodak's shares are not cheap (trading at 13 times the 2004 estimate of $2.51 per share), earnings are expected to grow at 8% this year, and the current dividend yield is an attractive 1.49%. With the company finally headed in the right direction, it appears that it will be only a matter of time before its prospects become clear and in focus again.

Take a digital picture of these other takes:

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and loves to take memorable pictures. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.


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