Why 2011 Crushed Eastman Kodak

As 2011 comes to a close, it's a great time to look back at what happened to the stocks that interest you. By making sure you know the important things that a company accomplished -- as well as the setbacks it experienced -- you can make a better decision about whether it's a smart investment for your portfolio.

Today, let's take a look at Eastman Kodak (NYS: EK) . Everyone knows the iconic company that brought cameras and film to the masses in decades past. But lately, Kodak simply hasn't kept up with the pace of technological innovation in photography. In response, the company's shares have crashed, and many investors see no future for Kodak.

Stats on Eastman Kodak

Year-to-Date Stock Return


Market Cap

$239.1 million

Revenue, Trailing 12 Months

$6.23 billion

1-Year Revenue Growth


1-Year Profit Growth

NM (loss of $1.24 billion over past 12 months)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)


Source: S&P Capital IQ. NM = not meaningful.

What happened to Kodak this year?
Kodak has gone from a giant to a fading star, with the market capitalization of a small-cap company. With a history that goes back to the 19th century, Kodak's biggest news of the year came in late September, when reports surfaced that it hired Jones Day, a law firm that specializes in restructuring. The move followed an announcement earlier in the year in which the company said it was "exploring strategic alternatives" for its digital imaging patent portfolios. Some analysts saw the moves as a possible precursor to a sale, breakup, or bankruptcy filing.

But as a leader in film and film-based cameras, Kodak steadily fell behind the times as digital photography took off and companies like Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) and Sony (NYS: SNE) built up their reputations in the space. The irony here is that Kodak is credited with inventing the first digital camera in the 1970s, and it still has an extensive array of patents related to digital technology. In fact, those patents are what's giving Kodak shares most of their value today.

Now, the company seems to be making the most of those last crown jewels. It licensed some of its cinematic laser projection patents to IMAX (NYS: IMAX) back in October, and lawsuits against Apple (NAS: AAPL) and Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) could give Kodak an estimated $1 billion in royalty payments.

Perhaps the biggest problem for Eastman Kodak is that investors have little confidence in the company. Although it has ample cash, the company is drawing down lines of credit. Whatever the future brings, 2011 hasn't been kind to Eastman Kodak, and in fact, it appears as if it might be the end of a long era for the former photo giant.

Kodak may not be part of the new technology revolution, but we've got a lead on a much better prospect. Read The Motley Fool's latest special report that reveals the only stock you need to profit from tech in 2012. The report is free, but it won't be there forever, so check it out today.

Click hereto add Eastman Kodak to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the content of Kodak's announcement. The Fool regrets the error.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of IMAX and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.