Shares of photography company Eastman Kodak
Kodak, which released Q4 and full-year results today, is still very much in cost-cutting mode. The company plans to cut 12,000 to 15,000 jobs in the next three years. That's on top of job cuts previously announced. Remarkably, the company could end up setting free more than 20,000 of its people by the time all (future announcements notwithstanding) is said and done.
Cutting jobs can save money in the long term. But if that's the only way a company can keep its profits up, it's difficult to support its business from an investor's perspective. Kodak's history of free cash flow, admittedly, makes it easier. (Kudos are also due Kodak, by the way, for including balance sheet and cash flow information in its earnings release.)
But Kodak appears fully committed to reenergizing itself. The company's made some difficult decisions lately, such as cutting back its 35mm business and reducing its dividend in order to devote more resources to the burgeoning digital business.
There were some good signs today, among them a 10% year-over-year pop in Q4 sales. Kodak's photography operation saw sales increase 9%, with digital cameras showing strong growth (though operating profits for the division fell -- perhaps unsurprising given the price competition in the market). Kodak's health and commercial imaging businesses, meanwhile, saw sales and operating profits grow.
There's plenty more uncertainty ahead for Kodak, its employees, and its investors. To the company's credit, however, it looks like it is finding its footing. It's not long ago that many believed even that was too daunting a task.
Talk about Kodak's future on our Eastman Kodak discussion board.
Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.