By ANDREW MARTIN and MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED
Eastman Kodak is considering filing for bankruptcy as it explores ways to lift its sagging fortunes, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Kodak said on Friday that no bankruptcy filing was imminent, but it did say that it had hired the law firm Jones Day, which has a prominent restructuring practice, to provide advice.
The news of the hiring, just a week after Kodak unexpectedly tapped its credit line, heightened worries about the viability of the company’s turnaround plan. With investors again rattled, Kodak’s stock price plunged 54 percent on Friday.
“It’s one of those cascading effects,” said Chris Whitmore, an analyst with Deutsche Bank Securities. “They are kind of cascading over the waterfall.”
The chief hope for Kodak, which has reported only one full year of profit since 2004, has been its planned sale of 1,100 digital imaging patents, which the company said accounted for about 10 percent of its total patent portfolio.
While the sale of patents was announced in July, the process is taking longer than expected, a person close to the sales process said, despite a burgeoning market for intellectual property. The phone maker Motorola Mobility, for example, was able to get a $12.5 billion takeover deal from Google in large part because of its expansive patent collection. Kodak has said that it has no timeline on the patents sale.
Kodak responded to the talk about bankruptcy on Friday afternoon after first The Wall Street Journal reported the hiring of Jones Day and then Bloomberg News said that a bankruptcy filing was among the options being considered.