Kodak: The long slow decline of an industry icon

Iconic for decades, time running out for Kodak


Its legacy spans 13 decades, and boasts many American firsts, but Eastman Kodak (EK), best known for cameras and photography, maybe running out of options and time.

Concerns about the company's future boiled over on Friday, after it hired a law firm well-known for bankruptcy cases, sending its shares down 54 percent to 78 cents per share.

Although Kodak said it has "no intention" of filing for bankruptcy, the fact that its shares closed under $1, and market capitalization shrank to less than $300 million suggests that even the most die-hard investors may have lost faith.

The picture began to fade in September 2003. Film sales were dying, and Kodak slashed its dividend by 70 percent, hoping to gain flexibility as it beefed up spending on commercial and inkjet printers, medical imaging devices and other digital systems. It stopped investing in traditional consumer film.

The next year, billionaire financier Carl Icahn ended a brief, but profitable stint as a Kodak shareholder, saying that the company's business model would not work, especially since it needed to shift gears while its primary revenue source, film, was in decline.

"(What Kodak is doing) certainly might not be enough," he said. "I think it is possibly too late."

In January 2004, the company said it would trim costs by shrinking manufacturing, and cutting some 15,000 jobs, or about 20 percent of its work force, over three years. Its work force has since been pared to about 18,800 -- 9,600 in the United States -- at the end of 2010, down from 86,000 in 1998.

Kodak has been an iconic name in American business. The company's history stretches back to inventor George Eastman's Eastman Dry Plate Company in 1881. By 1885 he had introduced the the first transparent photographic film. The "Kodak" camera hit the market in 1888, with the slogan, "You press the button - we do the rest."

It rolled out Kodachrome, the first commercially successful amateur color film, in 1935, but George Eastman was unable to see its debut. The ailing Eastman, a pioneering inventor and prolific philanthropist, committed suicide in 1932.
Comment: Once in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Now a penny stock. Weighing bankruptsy

Also famous for Paul Simon's Kodachrome

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"A billion transistors per human"

IBM Tops Microsoft in Value for First Time Since 1996


“Computing is now found in things that no one thinks of as ‘computers’,” said Palmisano at a trade show keynote in February. “Today, there are nearly a billion transistors per human, and each one costs one ten-millionth of a cent. Yes, some of these transistors are going into servers, PCs, smart phones, MP3 players and tablets. But an increasing number of them are going into appliances and automobiles, power grids, roadways, railways and waterways.”

Comment: The headline wasn't of that much interest to me but the quote above

Can't charge for the soda .... charge more for the burger!

Banks to Make Customers Pay Fee for Using Debit Cards


Bank of America, the nation’s biggest bank, said on Thursday that it planned to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee when they used their debit cards for purchases. It was just one of several new charges expected to hit consumers as new regulations crimp banks’ profits.

Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees. Regions Financial, based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month, while SunTrust, another regional powerhouse, is charging a $5 fee.

The round of new charges stems from a rule, which takes effect on Saturday, that limits the fees that banks can levy on merchants every time a consumer uses a debit card to make a purchase. The rule, known as the Durbin amendment, after its sponsor Senator Richard J. Durbin, is a crucial part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.

Until now, the fees have been 44 cents a transaction, on average. The Federal Reserve in June agreed to cut the fees to a maximum of about 24 cents. While the fee amounts to pennies per swipe, it rapidly adds up across millions of transactions. The new limit is expected to cost the banks about $6.6 billion in revenue a year, beginning in 2012, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. That comes on top of another loss, of $5.6 billion, from new rules restricting overdraft fees, which went into effect in July 2010.

And even though retailer groups had argued that lower fees were important to keep prices in check, consumers were not likely to see substantial savings. In fact, they are simply going to end up paying from a different pot of money.

Or as Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, put it after passage last year of the Dodd-Frank Act, “If you’re a restaurant and you can’t charge for the soda, you’re going to charge more for the burger.”

Comment: Durbin amendment was not consumer friendly


Friend and co-worker passes

Identity released of man killed when ATV rolls over

LADYSMITH - Officials have released the name of the 47-year-old man found dead Monday afternoon in Rusk County after an ATV rolled on top of him.

John Wolf, Dayton, Minn., died in the accident on property he owns in Rusk County.

According to the Rusk County Sheriff's Department, Wolf was dead when emergency responders arrived at a property in the town of Rusk in response to a 4:10 p.m. report of a person trapped under an ATV.

A preliminary investigation by the department found that Wolf was removing brush from a hillside on his property when the ATV tipped over, ejecting the victim and rolling on top of him.

Comment: We used to be in the same building and floor. I saw John twice last week. Very sad!

15 Stunning Statistics About the Jobs Market

15 Stunning Statistics About the Jobs Market


#6, 40 months. The average duration of unemployment is more than three years.

Comment: Maybe better: "15 Depressing Statistics About the Jobs Market"

Boulder: Cougars in the carport

Colorado cougars routinely traverse urban areas, study finds


Tracking data also detail AF69's move that week from foothills north of Boulder Canyon to a neighborhood where she killed a young buck, which she cached under a conifer tree near a house, covering it with landscaping mulch and pine needles.

"The interesting thing is that she's living in these neighborhoods but she is rarely seen," Alldredge said. "By and large, this cat is making a living in the urban-exurban environment. She's killing deer. She's doing the best she can in this area where she was born and raised. Part of the city is her home range."

The growing body of research on how AF69 and other cougars survive as Colorado's human population expands includes a case where a cougar cached a deer carcass in a suburban carport under a Chevy Blazer.

Comment: For Bikebubba - former Boulder resident! (See map w the article)


Pandora's box in Libya: 20,000 SAMs

Nightmare in Libya: 20,000 Surface-to-Air Missiles Missing


U.S. officials had once thought there was little chance that terrorists could get their hands on many of the portable surface-to-air missiles that can bring down a commercial jet liner.

But now that calculation is out the window, with officials at a recent secret White House meeting reporting that thousands of them have gone missing in Libya.

"Matching up a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, that's our worst nightmare," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-California, a member of the Senate's Commerce, Energy and Transportation Committee.

The nightmare has been made real with the discovery in Libya that an estimated 20,000 portable, heat-seeking missiles have gone missing from unguarded Army weapons warehouses.

The missiles, four to six-feet long and Russian-made, can weigh just 55 pounds with launcher. They lock on to the heat generated by the engines of aircraft, can be fired from a vehicle or from a combatant's shoulder, and are accurate and deadly at a range of more than two miles.

Comment: I wouldn't want to be flying internationally in light of this!

On Obama’s dropping of his g’s and how effortlessly “he can switch into that [black] dialect.”

AP Labeled “Racist” For Accurately Transcribing Obama Speech


During his speech, Obama attempted to fool the black audience into thinking he was one of them and not a paid teleprompter reader for Wall Street by dropping the g’s at the end of his words.

“Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” Obama lectured the audience. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

However, after the Associated Press accurately transcribed Obama’s dropped g’s, MSNBC aired a debate segment asking whether the decision not to “clean up” Obama’s words was “racist”.

“On MSNBC, the African-American author Karen Hunter complained the news service transcribed Obama’s speech without cleaning it up as other outlets did–specifically including the “dropped g’s,” reports Yahoo News.

“Hunter called the AP’s version “inherently racist,” sparring with New Republic contributing editor and noted linguistics expert John McWhorter, who argued the g-less version “is actually the correct one,” noting that the president’s victory in the 2008 election was due, in part, to how effortlessly “he can switch into that [black] dialect.”

It goes without saying that Hunter’s claim is completely ridiculous. Obama’s dropping of his g’s was blatantly deliberate. If the AP had “cleaned up” his speech it would have been completely misleading and inaccurate.

Hunter claimed the AP transcriber didn’t “fix” Obama’s grammar because of the color of his skin, while failing to mention the fact that transcripts of George W. Bush’s speeches were routinely transcribed (accurately) by including dropped g’s and other idiosyncratic styles of speech. She then ventured further into the realms of absurdity, claiming the AP writer was using a secret “code” through which to express his racism.

Comment: I hope black votes consider the 27-Year High On Black Unemployment

Black unemployment shot up like a rocket during the month of August, rising from an abysmal 15.9 percent to an even more shocking 16.7 percent. Much of the increase was driven by Black male unemployment, which rose from 17 to 18 percent. Black female unemployment remained steady at 13.4 percent, and Black teen unemployment experienced a dramatic increase from 39.2 percent to an astounding 46.5 percent.


Identify this tree

In my front yard. Has a leaf pattern like an ash but produces a seed ball like a sweetgum

Looking for help. Email me at jrpeet [at] jrpeet [dot] com or leave a comment. We live in Plymouth MN

In the garage - I think "Scutigera coleoptrata"

Comment: I saw it darting along the garage wall as we went to the car last night (leaving for church). I asked Kathee if she had seen it - she missed it. It moved very fast. I estimate 2-3" long. I saw it this morning again - still.

Kathee it ready to mash it the next time it appears.

Scutigera coleoptrata


Messing with the 401K program

401(k) Tax Changes May Be On Fast Track


One of the more controversial and sweeping proposals pitched during the hearing would do away with tax deferrals for for 401(k) plans and IRAs, replacing them with a flat tax credit.

"The purpose of the retirement income system is to promote an adequate retirement, not to promote tax sheltering through 401(k)s," testified William Gale, a co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution.

Not only do the existing tax rules provide less immediate benefit to low- and middle-income households, they are also relatively ineffective at inducing new saving," he says. "Contributions by high-income households to tax-subsidized retirement accounts are more likely to represent funds that are reshuffled from existing savings to take advantage of the tax benefit rather than a net new addition to saving. In other words, the current tax incentives to increase saving have relatively low bang for the buck because they merely subsidize shifting saving for high-income households rather than raising the total amount of saving in the economy."

Comment: 4 pages ... good read. My view ... GIANT mistake to mess with this


Retirement Planning: The financial capital-to-living expenses ratio

5 Checkpoints on Your Race to Retirement


How much money do you have set aside? You'll need, all in, at least 15.7 times your pay in your nest egg to fund your living expenses in retirement, according Hewitt Associates' Retirement Income Adequacy at Large Companies: The Real Deal 2010 study.

Happily, part of that 15.7 will come from the net present value of your stream of Social Security benefits, which Hewitt estimated to be 4.7. Thus, you'll need only at least 11 times your pay set aside in your defined contribution plan or other accounts earmarked for retirement. And, the "number" goes down a bit more if you have a defined benefit plan. That counts for 2.1 times pay on average. So, if you have a defined benefit plan, you'll need just nine times your pay to fund your retirement.

One bright spot about Hewitt's number of 15.7 is this: It reflects an explicit assumption that employees will bear the cost of post-retirement medical care, and that medical costs will increase at a rate greater than general inflation. Speaking of expenses, most experts say getting a handle on all your expenses, not just health-care costs, is a must-do for your checklist. Read Hewitt's study here.

Other firms, meanwhile, put the number at 10 times your salary. According to a Lincoln Financial Group study, would-be retirees should aim to have at least 10 times their income at a typical retirement age. There is, however, a caveat. "While the 10X score can help people gain perspective on the need for retirement planning, it's important to note that this is a baseline number and should only be used as a conversation starter," said Chuck Cornelio, president of the defined contribution business for Lincoln Financial Group.

Cornelio said savers should discuss their 10 times pay number with a financial adviser to determine whether this number fits their savings needs, or should be adjusted based on their individual circumstances.

Comment: Excerpt is just the first of 5. Scary thinking about this. 4 years away (Lord willing)


Trunks full of $$


My name is Mr. Tom Brown from Randle Delivery service in New York. I am contacting you on a very strict and confidential basis concerning some of your belongings in our company's possession.

I am the clearance officer for the above company and have stumbled on some valuable information that concerns you. During a routine inspection of unclear consignments in our warehouse I discovered two diplomatic trunk boxes that bears your name as the beneficiary. On further verification by scanning, I found that the consignments is filled with hard currency of $8.5m, in US dollars.
I strongly advice that you contact me immediately and reconfirm your information as stated below to me for further instructions on how you can claim your consignment

Comment: So that's what happened to my $$.


Solid Economic Policy: can be expressed in five one-syllable words: Get. Out. Of. The. Way.

Our floundering ‘federal family’


The economic policy the “federal family” should adopt can be expressed in five one-syllable words: Get. Out. Of. The. Way. Instead, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, whose department has become a venture capital firm for crony capitalism and costly flops at creating “green jobs,” praises the policy of essentially banishing the incandescent light bulb as “taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.” Better to let the experts in his department and the rest of the federal family waste other people’s money.

Comment: George Will ... read the whole thing!

Greek Default ... what could happen

Eurozone: A nightmare scenario



the talk among investors and some European politicians this week has been of Greek default. The graphic below outlines the likely consequences of a default by Greece. It is a description, not a prediction – a description that includes the possibility of the break-up of the eurozone

Comment: Very interesting. Graphic is a screen capture from the interactive graphic


CVS should hire him!

Walgreens pharmacist fired for using gun to foil robbery


You'd think the suits at Walgreens would be grateful. Instead, they fire a dedicated employee who foiled a robbery using a concealed weapon he carried.

The bizarre reason? Walgreens has a "no escalation" policy on robberies:

One week later, after being praised for staving off the suspects, Hoven was fired. His attorney, Dan Swanson, says a Walgreens District Manager fired Hoven, citing a "non escalation policy."

Comment: Walgreens pharmacist fired for using gun


The 2012 Election Will Come Down to Seven States

The 2012 Election Will Come Down to Seven States


President Obama is assured of 175 electoral votes from 12 deep-blue states and the District of Columbia: California (55 electoral votes), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington state (12) and Washington, D.C. (3).

Three more states are not quite as certain, but still likely Democratic: Maine (4), Minnesota (10) and Oregon (7). Even though Minnesota is competitive enough to vote Republican under the right set of conditions, it is the state with the longest Democratic presidential streak, dating to 1976

Four other states usually vote Democratic for president, but they're hardly a sure thing: Michigan (16), New Mexico (5), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10). A low Hispanic vote in 2012 could flip New Mexico, as Al Gore carried it by only 366 votes in 2000 and a dedicated effort by George W. Bush flipped it in 2004. In Michigan, economic problems might cause voters to cool on Democrats. Wisconsin, narrowly Democratic in 2000 and 2004, is a cauldron of unpredictable countertrends. And although Pennsylvania has frustrated all GOP attempts to win it over since 1988, recent polls have shown weakness for Mr. Obama there. These 51 electoral votes will be GOP targets if conditions in the fall of 2012 approximate today's.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have their own firewall. Almost any sentient GOP nominee will carry Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Utah (6), West Virginia (5) and Wyoming (3). These 18 states have 105 electoral votes.

The Obama forces have bravely boasted that they can turn Arizona (11), Georgia (16) and Texas (38), mainly because of growing Latino voting power. But with the economy in the tank, electoral claims on these big three will likely go the way of John McCain's early declaration in '08 that California was within his grasp. Count another 65 red votes here.

Four years ago, even optimistic Democrats didn't think they would pick up Indiana (11), North Carolina (15), or an electoral vote in Nebraska (which like Maine awards one vote per congressional district), yet all three went for Mr. Obama by small margins. In 2012, Indiana is likely to desert him, as is the one Cornhusker district. To keep North Carolina, the Democrats chose Charlotte for their national convention and will make a big play statewide. As of now, it looks tough for them. Thus Republicans are in the lead to win 26 more electors. Missouri was the sole squeaker that went for McCain; few believe it will be tight next year, so the GOP will likely have those 10 votes, too.

Republicans therefore are a lock or lead in 24 states for 206 electoral votes, and Democrats have or lead in 19 states for 247 electoral votes. That's why seven super-swing states with 85 electors will determine which party gets to the magic number of 270 electoral votes: Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Ohio (18) and Virginia (13).

Comment: Consider earlier post: 2012 Electoral Math. Check out http://www.270towin.com/ and play different scenarios

Where the teleprompter meets the road

The grander the stage, the smaller Mr. Obama comes across


When Mr. Obama entered office, he told us unemployment would not rise over 8% if we passed his stimulus. Now his economic advisers have just told us that unemployment will not fall below the 9% mark through next year. As if to underscore the grim news, the latest jobs report—released in time for Labor Day weekend—shows zero net job growth for August.

The politics requires not only that the president address the economy's dismal jobs performance but that he be seen by the American people to be doing it. And that's where the teleprompter meets the road.

The truth is that there is practically nothing Mr. Obama could do to gin up better jobs numbers before next year's election without massively increasing the deficit—and the Republicans won't let him do that. Even with the word "stimulus" banished from his remarks this week, no one will be fooled by new calls to "invest" in roads and bridges and infrastructure. Or by the expected hodgepodge of other proposals from extending the payroll tax holiday to tax credits for new hires.


In music there's a saying about a performance that was "too small for the house." That's becoming true of the president. There was a day when Mr. Obama's taste for the marvelous—a campaign address in Berlin, the faux presidential seal, the Greek columns that surrounded him during his speech accepting the Democratic nomination—all seemed to herald something exciting and historic.

Even inside the Beltway, however, substance ultimately tells. Three years into his presidency, the grander the stage the smaller Mr. Obama comes across.

Comment: My wife (and many others) says - "he never says anything". He used to have style without substance and now even the style is gone! Image source: Obama Uses Teleprompter to speak in 6th Grade Class


On evaluating stocks

The 4 Basic Elements Of Stock Value


  • The Price-to-Book Ratio (P/B)
  • Price-to-Earnings Ratio (P/E)
  • The PEG Ratio
  • Dividend Yield
Comment: The P/B ratio is only significant if the company goes out of business. If you think they are going to go out to business don't invest in it! Other ratios have value. The P/E looks back at earnings ... the PEG looks forward to earnings. A robust website for these ratios is MacroWorld


Car drama

We are parking in the street this week as we had our driveway repaved and are not to drive on it for 7 days (or park on it for 14)

Today as we left church, Kathee noted a pool of fluid under the car. I wasn't convinced it was anything but when we got home there was a similarly sized pool where we had parked on the street.

After lunch we purposed to drop the car off at Lupient for repair on Tuesday. Kathee drove the Buick and I followed behind with my truck. About 3/4 the way there the Buick overheated so Kathee stopped and turned off the engine. We called a tow truck and waited.

A very nice gentleman was mowing his grass there. He brought out iced-water and we chatted for almost an hour.

Finally the tow truck arrived.

I think we are OK because I looked at the owener's manual and we have a 4 year / 50,000 m warranty. We are at 3 years and 37,000 miles.


Vikings Stadium: Let the people vote!

Referendum could be deal-breaker - Politicians are messing up the Vikings' stadium proposal, and the team would move if it falls through.


The Vikings have done a lot of work to convince politicians in the Legislature of the benefits of the stadium and to vote in favor of it. The Wilf family is putting in more money to build the stadium than most other franchises have contributed that have recently built new facilities. But we still have Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers calling for a referendum in Ramsey County on the proposed half-percent sales tax needed to fund the stadium.

I suggest Koch check with her Buffalo constituents on how she would fare in a future election if the Vikings, who are in the last year of their Metrodome lease, decide to move to Los Angeles or some other place if they can't finalize this deal.

I agree with Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett, who has been pushing hard for the Arden Hills site, that a referendum would kill the stadium proposal. And if there wasn't a referendum for the Twins' Target Field, which has been such a major success, why have one for the Vikings stadium?

If a referendum took place and voters defeated the tax-increase proposal, believe me, it's a cinch the Vikings would move. The team would be stuck in the Metrodome with no chance to take in the necessary revenue to compete with other teams.

All signs point to two teams moving to Los Angeles to play in their proposed new downtown stadium. The Vikings could be one of them.

Comment: Sid Hartman at it again.


Canadian Banks: Investment Safety in the Far North

Canada banks face storm clouds after good quarter


Canada's banking sector is dominated by a half dozen big banks which are both protected from foreign takeovers and prevented from merging with each other. They generate billions in profits from their domestic branch-bank businesses and required no bailouts during the 2008-09 crisis.


Europe's banks are in the grip of a debt crisis, while U.S. banks are selling assets to build up capital.

Even Canada, which has ridden a strong housing sector to a relatively even-keel economic performance over the past two years, experienced an unexpected economic contraction in the second quarter, data this week showed.

Through it all, Canadians have kept borrowing, enticed by rock bottom interest rates that have proven a double-edged sword for the banks.

Comment: I've been investing in Canadian Banks. I regard them as financial utilities paying steady dividends. Now investing in Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS)