What: Shares of imaging technology veteran Eastman Kodak (NYSE:KODK) fell 11.9% in the month of June, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Prices swooned fairly consistently across the trading month, with or without obvious catalysts, but the largest overnight plunge followed what some investors might consider a positive development.
So what: On June 16, news broke that Kodak had signed over more than 204,000 square feet of its Eastman Business Park to medical marijuana grower Columbia Care. Though carefully worded to convey a positive message, the press release could easily be interpreted as a panic move designed to squeeze value out of Kodak's obsolete and underused assets. In that light, the quick 7% price drop would make sense.
Now what: The Kodak of old would never have plunged on an innocent news release like this one.
The stock that emerged from Kodak's bankruptcy process in 2013 is a thinly traded minnow, easily manipulated and shifted by relatively small events. A misunderstood press release can certainly move this stock. It was different 10 years ago, when Kodak still was a Dow member and way too liquid to be moved by simple misunderstandings.
And it really is a misunderstanding. "More than 200,000 square feet" sounds like a lot of underused office and factory space, the loss of which quite possibly could impede Kodak's own operations. But you know, that works out to less than 5% of Eastman Business Park's 1,200 acres. Moreover, Kodak made it clear that Columbia Care's marijuana fields will take over land that's been unused for years. The entire site used to be a Kodak film factory, but started turning into an all-purpose business complex with a variety of tenants nearly a decade ago.
This is really business as usual for Kodak's Rochester, N.Y., asset. If anything, it's actually a sizable business win that ties Kodak's business park to the rising medical marijuana industry.
Sometimes, Mr. Market just misreads what's going on and reacts all backward. Kodak in June was a great example of this sad truth.