January 13, 2012
For months the story of Eastman Kodak has swirled with rumor and urban legend. Word from the CEO had been relentlessly upbeat, despite what employees, retirees, investors, and everyone else could see happening: cash dwindling and lawyers circling. Patents have been up for sale but no deal has been struck. Stories of "rescue financing" have circulated, but no one has been willing to lend to a company whose situation has become so precarious. And then last night the word came from Bloomberg News that Kodak is in "advanced discussions" for bankruptcy financing.
Sometimes when there's smoke it's just smoke. But with Kodak lately I think fires are raging on the top floors of 343 State Street. Sources inside Kodak are speaking out, and the same goes for people connected to the banks who may lend. There are credible stories that some of the leaks may have been engineered by Kodak itself, as a way of preparing the public for an imminent bankruptcy. Last week's resignation of Kodak's Chief Communications Officer Gerard Meuchner was just one more troubling sign of turmoil at the top.
All that turmoil has meant sleepless nights for thousands of Kodak employees and retirees, who are concerned about what a bankruptcy would mean to them and their families. If there's any silver lining to this story, it's that most retiree benefits will remain intact (except healthcare) and that Kodak will not simply shut down and send all of its employees home.
We have been saying for months that Kodak is headed for bankruptcy, and it looks like they are about to file. As the event looms near, I'll feel no satisfaction if we're proven right.
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(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).