The digital revolution did away with 40,000 jobs at Eastman Kodak Co. over the last five years.
The global recession is reducing the photography icon's ranks still further to about 20,000, a level not seen since the Great Depression.
Kodak said Thursday that it lost $137 million in the fourth quarter on plunging sales of both digital and film-based photography products. It plans to eliminate 3,500 to 4,500 jobs, or 14 percent to 18 percent of its work force, in 2009.
Its stock lost more than 27 percent of its value, sinking $1.96 to a decades-long low of $5.11 in afternoon trading.
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Its loss in the October-December period amounted to 51 cents a share. That compares with a year-ago profit of $215million, or 75 cents a share.
Sales slumped 24 percent to $2.43 billion, hit by a sharp slowdown in demand not only for chemical-based film and paper but a new world of electronic-imaging products from cameras and inkjet printers to retailer kiosks and high-speed commercial presses.
Digital revenue dropped 23 percent to $1.78 billion and traditional film-based revenue fell 27 percent to $652 million.
“Consumer digital was a disaster area – it's the economy, unquestionably,” said Ulysses Yannas, a broker for Buckman, Buckman & Reid in New York. “Long-term, I'm not gloomy about this company but it's suffering a helluva lot of pain.
“There was a point when Kodak had too many people. Now it's going the other way, shedding the bulk of manufacturing” as it turns into “an intellectual property and marketing operation. I don't see that there's any fat left, which says that when and if this thing turns around, you're going to have a wild ride.”
Converting the bulk of its business from high-margin film to more competitive digital technology cost the picture-taking pioneer $3.4 billion from 2004 through '07. It chopped its global work force from 64,000 to 24,400 at the end of 2008, with about two-thirds of its 12,800 U.S. employees based in Rochester. The latest cuts could trim its payroll to a 1930s-era low of 19,900.
“The second half of 2008 will go in the history books as one of the most challenging periods we have seen in decades,” Kodak's chief executive, Antonio Perez, said in a conference call with analysts.