22 March 2020 Business

Kodak establishes firm platform for future

Kodak has reorganised is debt and its management structure and is ready to sell its way to growth, says executive chairman Jim Continenza.

Kodak has emerged from what executive chairman Jim Continenza describes as a transitional year with as much cash in the bank as at the start of the financial year and, crucially, without debt to speak of.

It's revenues fell on a like for like basis from $1.32 billion to $1.24 billion, but earnings increased to $116 million from a loss of $16 million. The highlights for the company included a 22% by volume increase in sales of the Sonora process free plate and a 5% annuity led increase from Prosper. The other key aspect of the year was the sale of the flexo plates operation to Miraclon, raising $395 million. The sale of shares netted a further $100 million to release the company from immediate interest payments and to give Continenza the freedom he has wanted to shop the company’s destiny without bankers hanging over the business.

That business has been reshaped away from separate operations, each with individual structures to support graphic systems, enterprise inkjet, advanced materials, consumer film and so on. Instead these become functional arms of the business, products, sales etc., and shaped to provide a single Kodak voice and experience to each customer.

Thus the traditional printing segment includes plates and prepress workflows, digital print combines enterprise inkjet, Nexpress and Kodak software leaving 3D, advanced material and film, which fall into the advanced material and chemicals segment.

Continenza explains that in 2019 Kodak “consolidated our divisional structure, strengthened our financial position and returned our focus to our core print and advanced materials and chemicals businesses. For 2020, we will continue to become more customer centric, launch groundbreaking print products and, most importantly, focus on generating cash.”

A new version of Sonora is coming to expand the plate’s capabilities to around 90% of the litho plate sector, the speed of the Nexfinity is being raised to 150ppm, in line with previous announcements, and there will be further developments around inkjet. The first flexible packaging productions produced on presses where the Prosper Stream and Ultrastream print heads are being used have been shipped. A second plate line for Sonora at the Oesterode site in Germany is coming on stream.

A further achievement has been to stem the flow of cash out of the business. Instead of a steady reduction of some $140-$160 million a year, it used $90-$100 million, thanks to a focus on cost savings and shutting down unprofitable operations. It ended the year with $233 million in cash, the same position as at the end of 2018.

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Kodak continues to innovate with plates and Nexfinity and inkjet products are to be introduced this year as the company regains its focus under executive chairman Jim Continenza.

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