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Kodak Profit Tops Estimates, Helped by Cost Cutting

Eastman Kodak reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday as cost-cutting and a big gain from an asset sale trumped lower sales of film, cameras and developing services.

Kodak , whose shares rose nearly 6% in early trading, also said profit margins rose, due in part to a significantly reduced commitment to making cameras and film.

A roll of Kodak film is seen in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006. Eastman Kodak Co., scrambling to squeeze bigger profits from digital photography, posted a loss of $37 million in the third quarter Tuesday, its eighth quarterly loss in a row. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer
A roll of Kodak film is seen in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006. Eastman Kodak Co., scrambling to squeeze bigger profits from digital photography, posted a loss of $37 million in the third quarter Tuesday, its eighth quarterly loss in a row. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Rochester, New York-based company, which is in the final stages of a long, expensive shift away from film toward digital products, posted net income of $592 million, or $2.06 a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $282 million, or 98 cents a share.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were 45 cents a share, far above analysts' average forecast of 9 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell 7% to $2.51 billion from $2.69 billion and was just shy of an average forecast of $2.53 billion.

Digital revenue rose 3% to $1.460 billion, while revenue from its more traditional products fell 17% to $1.044 billion.

Analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research called the results "a mixed bag," noting that while the bottom line improved, Kodak did not give details on key growth initiatives such as its new line of inkjet printers.

"From an operational standpoint there was some improvement, but it wasn't as good as the headline would make you believe," she said. "There was operational improvement from cost-cutting, but some areas that people look for ... there was not a lot of information."

In April, Kodak completed the sale of its Health Group to an affiliate of Onex for $2.35 billion. The company recognized a pre-tax gain of $980 million on the sale.

Since late 2003, Kodak has focused on digital devices, hoping to outpace the drop in demand for film, historically its main revenue source. At the same time, it is reducing costs by cutting some 30,000 jobs and trimming manufacturing.

Kodak shares rose $1.48 to $27.03 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Through Wednesday, the shares were down 3 percent this year.

Analysts say it is difficult to peg Kodak's value since it is growing in certain areas, such as commercial and consumer printing, even as it sheds people and capital in other areas.

Kodak said it lost $135 million, or 47 cents a share, from continuing operations in the second quarter, including one-time items.

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