Kodak shares soar 300% in wild ride after Trump taps the former film giant to make drug ingredients

Kodak CEO: We need to have these pharmaceuticals here, we need to protect our people

Eastman Kodak shares soared on Wednesday after President Donald Trump announced a deal to work with the photography pioneer to produce ingredients in generic drugs in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares of Kodak rallied 318% to about $25.26 a share for its best day ever. The stock skyrocketed as much as 570% to $60.00 apiece at one point. Trading was halted 20 times during Wednesday's trading due to volatility.

Just on Tuesday, the stock jumped 203% after the U.S. government awarded the company a $765 million loan to start producing drug ingredients under the Defense Production Act, the first of its kind.

"Our 33rd use of the Defense Production Act will mobilize Kodak to make generic, active pharmaceutical ingredients," Trump said in a press conference Tuesday evening. "We will bring back our jobs and we will make America the world's premier medical manufacturer and supplier."

Kodak said Tuesday it will produce pharmaceutical components that have been identified as essential but have lapsed into chronic national shortage, as defined by the Food and Drug Administration.

With Wednesday's massive jump, the stock is up more than 1,300% this week alone, hitting a market cap of over $1.5 billion. Before Tuesday's trading it had a market value of just $115 million.

The company said it will expand existing facilities in Rochester, New York and St. Paul, Minnesota under a new Kodak Pharmaceuticals arm. 

Eastman Kodak CEO James Continenza on shift to drug production

"Kodak is proud to be a part of strengthening America's self-sufficiency in producing the key pharmaceutical ingredients we need to keep our citizens safe," Kodak Executive Chairman Jim Continenza said in a statement. "By leveraging our vast infrastructure, deep expertise in chemicals manufacturing, and heritage of innovation and quality, Kodak will play a critical role in the return of a reliable American pharmaceutical supply chain."

The 131-year old imagining company filed for bankruptcy in 2012 as the shift to digital cameras devastated the business. The move to drug production could mark a fighting chance for the onetime leader in film and photography.

It's worth noting this wouldn't be Kodak's first foray into the drug industry. In the 1990s, Kodak was involved in production of nonprescription medicines such as aspirin. It eventually sold the business to health care giant SmithKline Beecham for $2.925 billion in 1994.

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