Bankruptcy has not been friendly to Kodak. The once-important camera company — now a printing company — is worth less than 20 cents a share today, a completely different picture than its glory days in the mid-1990s, when the price briefly surged beyond $90. Now that the share price is so low, would it be wise to invest in the company in hopes that it emerges from bankruptcy protection? Matt Krantz over at USA Today says no, and writes,
Some investors figure that companies that were as large and powerful as Eastman Kodak can’t just vanish. And because of that, they think that when they see the shares trading for just 22 cents that they can’t miss. But investors who assume this are missing a few key points that wind up resulting in huge losses and disappointment.
When companies undergo bankruptcy restructuring, common stockholders are last in line for what’s left of the remaining company. It’s pretty common for the common shares to be delisted from a stock exchange and ultimately be moved to a lightly regulated marketplace. That’s what’s happened with Kodak shares. Some shareholders find getting out of these positions can be costly or troublesome.
He says that while it’s possible that Kodak will succeed in its plans of emerging from bankruptcy next year, it’s unlikely that anyone still holding on to shares in the company will see their wallets getting fatter.
Ask Matt: Are Eastman Kodak shares a bankrupt bargain? [USA Today]
Image credit: Illustration based on Kodak Building in Rochester, NY by Viktor Nagornyy
The financial scandal rocking Olympus is one that the company may not survive. The company’s stock price plunged another 17% today, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange has informed the company that it will be delisted if it doesn’t meet a December 14th deadline for reporting earnings. The New York Times has a great piece on how Olympus got itself into this mess:
In June 1998, a disturbing rumor tore through trading floors in Tokyo: Olympus had suffered colossal losses on derivatives trading, punching a large hole in its balance sheet. The company’s shares spiraled down 11 percent in three days.
But Olympus categorically denied the rumor and went on to post record profits. All was well in the house of Olympus, the newly installed president, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, assured investors.
Turns out the losses were in fact real. They were so colossal, however, that booking all of them could have pushed the company into bankruptcy. The management then decided to fudge their numbers in an effort to save the company.
Corporate Japan Rocked by Scandal at Olympus (via TOP)
Kodak’s stock plummeted again today, losing nearly 50% of its value and closing at $0.78 per share. The company was worth over $30 billion back in 1997, but todays stock price pegs the value at just $200 million. Prominent investors in the company are calling for its sale, but apparently there’s been hurdles in selling off its patent portfolio, and now bankruptcy might be on the horizon. A quote by a company spokesperson a couple days ago caught my eye: when asked why Kodak was struggling in the digital market, the response was,
We have one of the leading digital camera line-ups, including top-selling pocket video cameras with differentiated features, and a wide range of digital cameras that feature the unique “Share” button.
That kind of explains things, doesn’t it? The end appears to be very near…
If you look at the price of Kodak’s stock, you’ll see that the company is currently worth about $600 million — a figure that may be significantly lower than what its digital imaging patents could sell for. With the risk looming that a buyer might try to acquire the patents by simply taking over the company, Kodak is taking evasive maneuvers:
The Rochester photo and imaging company said Monday that its board had created a special class of stock to serve as a firewall in case someone tries to take a majority interest in the company.
Under the terms of the deal, if any investor tries to buy 5 percent or more of the company over the next three years, Kodak would issue all current stockholders shares of preferred stock. As a result, any takeover attempt would require the purchase of additional shares that could make the cost prohibitive.
In the business world, this tactic is known as a “poison pill“.
Kodak makes defensive move (via 1001 Noisy Cameras)
Image credit: Pill tablet by doug88888
The stock prices of major camera equipment manufacturers took a major — and expected — dive after the earthquake on March 11, 2011. Though they made a brief recovery afterward, they’re continuing to fall due to the risk that gear prices may soon skyrocket soar once decreased production isn’t able to meet demand.
(via Enticing the Light)