KODAK – IS ONLY WORTH $2.00 PER SHARE – #108

No Marketing, Sales or Employee inputs for decades. Lack of leadership has been very evident. I say this, due to knowing Mr. Fischer personally, who moved from Motorola to Kodak as CEO. Every morning I met Mr. Fischer at 5:00 AM at Buehler YMCA waiting for the pool and exercise room to open. Once, he came by for a work-out while moving, and he told us the following Kodak story: I VISITED A KODAK PLANT THAT WAS MAKING ROLL FILM AND I BROUGHT NEWS THAT KODAK WAS CLOSING THIS PLANT. MR. FISCHER ASKED ONE QUESTION OF THIS GROUP – HOW MANY OF YOU OR YOUR FAMILIES OWN A DIGITAL CAMERA THAT DOESN’T USE ROLL FILMS? THE ANSWER WAS; APPROX 67% RAISED THEIR HANDS TO INDICATE YES. THERE WAS NO TRUST IN MANAGEMENT.

Kodak spent too much time getting out of bankruptcies and into new areas without a fit or specific plan. Kodak had a very low focus on anything, which would have affected any successes from present, past and future innovations. Where has Marketing been at Kodak for the last 50 years?

In the area of digital printing, it aimed products at the Printing Market, which was undergoing major changes at in-home, office and commercial printing levels. All they had to do was to watch their cross-town rivals (XEROX CORP.) struggle in these markets. To show you how the direction has failed Kodak over the past decades, I have compiled a small list of events that occurred.

  •     Kodak didn’t answer Xerox with a plain paper copier 40-50 years ago.  Should have considered buying Xerox. The plain paper copier dominated the office market for the first 7 years.
  •    Kodak launched cellphones, tablets, and in 2018 a Digital currency called Kodak Coin which the company said would help every-body capture images as was necessary.
  •      There was secret or at least quiet word on the part of the “Trump Administration” it was getting manufacturing capabilities – ready for when FDC OK’S the vaccination for Covid19. Mr. Navarro was in charge, and the question had to come up – who will pay for the vaccine? He had approved the DFC Agency’s getting a loan ready for Kodak of 750 million plus $’s. It is strange that this DFC loan was the first they would grant to a domestic U.S. company.
  •   In June, Kodak submitted a 17 Page financial model and a 96 Page business plan – there were no other applicants – due to the fact that nobody had the empty plants that Kodak had.
  • The word of the loan was leaked by Kodak ahead of the announcement, and caused Peter Navarro to say in a CNBC appearance – “that what happened at Kodak, was probably one of the dumbest management decisions made in Corporate History.” The DFC agency had the financial knowledge to get the deal done.
  • The stock went from $2.00 to $60.00 in a few days, only to decline into a single digit price after the deal was put on hold. Why did Kodak have plants sitting around when their sales were slipping?  More mismanagement.  Now that it is known that Kodak has plant space available, it should be shedding this space quickly.
  • Having experienced a “death blow” to a deal that would have given Kodak a second life. Meanwhile, a board member exercised options at $2.00 and sold them at $60.00 at a record $60.00 a share and made a tax-deductible donation to a Brooklyn religious organization. What a donation?
  • The CEO of Kodak invited the SEC to investigate the Board Member, Himself and a series of Managers who made a lot of Money on Kodak stock. Last week the SEC found Kodak not having any violations in the security area of insider info.

You can take away any management lesson that might apply to the Kodak situation – one thing for sure – is that leaking info has and will continue to be unacceptable.