The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has warned Eastman Kodak they failed to meet its criteria and may well be delisted later this year. Eastman Kodak's share has been under $1 for 30 consecutive trading-days and will be expelled from the exchange early July, except if the share closes over $1 on the last trading day of any calendar month and has an average closing price of at least $1 over the 30 trading-days before that.
This will become very difficult for the nearly bankrupt company, that quadrupled its quarterly loss to $ 222 million (€ 170 million) in last year's third quarter. In November, Eastman Kodak warned it might not survive the year if it did not find half a billion dollars by selling debts – or patents.
The Eastman Kodak story reads like a painful example of the Law of the handicap of a head start: Kodak used to be so big, that 'kodak' was synonymous for 'camera' – in some parts of the worlds, it still is. The company thought however that it was so big that it could keep its position of market leader comfortably, because “Americans would not desert their favourite brands”.
How Eastman Kodak was wrong: in not sponsoring the Olympic Games of 1996, it gave Japanese competitors Fuji a first, easy stepping stone towards the American market. In just fifteen years, Fuji became the market leader in the US, while Eastman Kodak – as it missed out on the digital revolution – lost 99.5% of its share value. In 1997, Eastman Kodak's shares were still worth $90; yesterday it closed at 47 cent. The company has been on Wall street since April 1905.