If you're pining for corporate earnings, it's on! Today, we got reports from some of the market's largest, most-influential companies. The signals were mixed as to the health of the economic recovery, but market bulls were uniformly cheered by a midday reversal and strong afternoon rally.

Amazon, AOL, and Eastman Kodak were among the contingent of giants weighing in -- results varied as did investor reactions.

Enjoy the day's move, but keep your heads. Foolish investing is all about the long haul.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Kodak's Blurry Picture

Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK) is just not doing a great job competing in the digital age. That must be especially frustrating to shareholders, since it's an era the company helped usher in several years ago.

The Dow component reported second-quarter earnings of $0.39 per share this morning, down 60% from the same period last year. Earnings from continuing operations, which exclude cost-reduction expenses, fell 30%. Without the benefits from foreign currency translations, revenue slipped 6%.

Film and photographic paper have been Kodak's bread and butter for years, but that business continues to drop off as more and more consumers turn to digital cameras. These nifty devices use no film and -- since digital shutterbugs print fewer pictures -- require less paper.

That declining business prompted management today to announce the elimination of up to 6,000 jobs, or 9% of its workforce, beginning later this year.

As always, the question for investors is what lies ahead. Will the digital revolution leave the struggling giant behind? CEO Daniel Carp promises "new products and services with different business models but with a potential for growth that is far beyond that of our more mature operations." If he's right, that and the current 7% yield make for an interesting stock.

But Kodak has a long history of disappointments. Its inability to adjust to digital up to this point has resulted in a total 10-year return of -16%, lofty dividends included. Compare that with a 160% return for the S&P 500 over the same period and you see why it's tough to give the company the benefit of the doubt.

Quote of Note

"A picture is a fact." -- Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889–1951, Austrian-British philosopher

Amazon Keeps Booking

Here's where we stand. Amazon.com(Nasdaq: AMZN) topped the billion-dollar sales mark for the third consecutive quarter. Maybe you expected it over the holidays -- all those shoppers clicking away between the yule time Ho, Ho, Hos. And maybe a good number of neglected gift certificates bled into the March quarter, too. But we're well into retail's seasonal dead zone; shouldn't Amazon be pulling over for a breather?

Let's face it, this Amazon is legit. The leading online retailer silenced most doubters quarters ago with its profitability and ascension to the role of virtual landlord over brick-and-mortar giants like Target(NYSE: TGT), Toys "R" Us(NYSE: TOY), and even rival Borders(NYSE: BGP). Amazon, the stock, has nearly tripled over the past year.

This latest triumph -- a 37% jump in sales to $1.1 billion -- isn't about convincing doubters. It's about emerging as a non-seasonal, year-round retail juggernaut. Consider, Amazon moved 1.4 million copies of Harry Potter's new book in a single month. Now consider how that magical $25 million in sales gets lost in a $1.1 billion quarter.

From here, Amazon is looking to ring up between $4.9 billion and $5.1 billion in sales this year. It would take 50 Amazons to equal the global tally of Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT), but to many investors, that's not the point. How many billion-dollar retailers can grow even half as quickly as Amazon is right now?

Management didn't offer bottom-line guidance, but it does expect operating profits of between $215 million and $255 million this year. With a market cap approaching $15 billion, multiples remain high by most valuation metrics. Still, the company continues to do the right things like trimming its costs and turning its inventory over faster.

That Amazon bears watching is something the competition knows all too well. This month Barnes & Noble(NYSE: BKS) has decided to ape Amazon's free shipping strategy for online orders over $25. That gets us thinking: If you buy one share of Amazon, you'll get the shipping free; you'd have to buy a dozen shares of Barnesandnoble.com(Nasdaq: BNBN) to get that same deal. Have we stumbled upon a new way to value stocks?

Discussion Board of the Day: Amazon

Is Amazon here to stay or is it still vulnerable? Will Barnes & Noble's online store succeed now that it's mirroring Amazon's free shipping policy? Can you really buy one of those cool Segway scooters on Amazon? All this and more -- in the Amazon discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

AOL Stays on Track

With today's second-quarter earnings release, AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL) notched another quarter of growth under CEO and Chairman Richard Parsons. Hot movies like The Matrix Reloaded, as well as strength from its networks and cable divisions, helped offset ongoing weakness in the America Online Internet business. The company's plan to reduce debt is also moving along smoothly.

Total revenues for the quarter grew 6% to $10.8 billion. Filmed entertainment revenues increased 16%, while networks and cable revenues improved by 9% and 10%, respectively. Sales at the America Online division, however, sank 6% to $2.1 billion.

Including several special gains and $277 million in goodwill write-downs, AOL earned $1.1 billion, or $0.23 a diluted share. Stripping out all the muck, it earned $0.12 a share, vs. $396 million or $0.09 per share a year ago. Comparing like to like, then, AOL delivered earnings-per-share growth of 33%.

America Online lost subscribers again, closing the quarter with 25.3 million members. That's down 1.2 million from the year-ago period and 846,000, sequentially. It eliminated some members, accounting for 45% of that sequential decline, in an effort to clean up its subscriber base and remove non-paying users. The company is still trying to figure out a way to effectively shore up the division, but expects a mid-single-digit drop in 2003 revenues.

And management is keeping its word on debt reduction. At quarter's end, AOL had net debt of $24.2 billion on the books, $2.1 billion less than the $26.3 billion reported as of March 31. Another $1 billion from the sale of its DVD and CD manufacturing business late last week will be used to pay down even more borrowings.

One potential kink involves the planned spin-off of part of AOL's cable business this fall. The company has yet to satisfy the SEC concerning $400 million in transactions with Germany's Bertelsmann AG. Until the matter is settled, the SEC will likely postpone the spin-off, thus denying AOL roughly $2.1 billion earmarked for debt reduction. AOL appears unfazed by this, saying it can come up with the cash necessary to pare its debt to $20 billion by the end of next year.

On the balance, today's news is good for shareholders. AOL is staying the course on debt reduction, growing significant parts of its business, while at the same time addressing the problems with the America Online division.

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Quick Takes

Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCH) CEO David Pottruck says that while there is "heightened investor engagement" these days, many are still approaching the markets with hesitancy. Those remarks came as the discount broker reported a 29% increase in second-quarter earnings and announced a 27% dividend hike.

Same song, umpteenth verse. Lucent Technologies(NYSE: LU) today said it lost $0.07 per share for the three months ended June 30... its 13th consecutive quarterly loss. The telecom equipment maker says it's now hoping for a return to profitability in 2004.

Hefty charges related to its launch and satellite businesses sent Boeing(NYSE: BA) to a second-quarter loss. The aerospace and defense giant also cut its 2003 and 2004 earnings guidance.

Shares of Sun Microsystems(Nasdaq: SUNW) were eclipsed 20% today after it missed estimates with an 80% drop in earnings. The maker of computer servers and software saw sales slip for the ninth straight quarter, this time by 13%.

In local news, the family of 1999 Hide-and-Seek champion Everett Charles is celebrating his return after a four-year absence.

And Finally...

Today on Fool.com:

  • For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
  • eBay's Ad Play: The auctioneer's new ad service could significantly boost revenue.
  • Fool Writer IPOs: Here's your chance to get in on the ground floor of one hot commodity.
  • Roth IRA as Emergency Fund: Should you use a Roth IRA for non-retirement expenses?
  • In Fool's School, deciphering fair value.

Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Paul Elliott, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Kate Southerland, Dayana Yochim