The prospects for Kodak have not been looking good for some time, but today things became decidedly grim. If the rumours are to be believed, the company is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. That is, unless it can sell off its valuable cache of 1,100 patents within the next few days.
Given that it was Kodak that practically developed digital photography, there must be plenty of juicy morsels lurking amongst its archives that any other camera manufacturers would be willing to gobble up. But the question is, would these companies be willing to pay enough upfront to help keep Kodak afloat? If the patents are auctioned off under court supervision, according to Chapter 11 rules, they could be picked up at knock-down prices. Or two (or more) rival companies might engage in a bidding war and the prices could rocket. That would be good for Kodak, but to what end? It'd be solvent, yes, but that'd be just about it. How much would this be just deferring the inevitable?
Kodak's shares have closed at under $1 for thirty consecutive days, and it's possible that it'll be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange as a consequence. This afternoon, its shares were trading at 54 cents.
This would seem to be a rattling death throe in a protracted, painful, and very public demise. I can't help but think that it would be kinder all round if someone would issue a swift coup de grace.