Taking a Shot at Kodak's Looming Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy won't be the worst thing to happen to Eastman Kodak Co. (NYSE:EK).

What will be worse is the puns.

Bloggers, tweeters, social networkers and headline writers have been rolling them out for weeks now.

"Not a Kodak Moment," read a recent headline on a Reuters story.

"Kodak's Long Fade To Black," read a Dec. 4 headline in the Los Angeles Times.

"Negative Overexposure," read the New York Times on Oct. 21.

"...Snapshot of the Fall of an American Icon," wrote the Associated Press on Oct. 5.

I know: Tacky, tacky. But so far, it doesn't look as if Kodak is getting the picture. The 131-year old filmmaker has promised that bankruptcy is one slide it will not make. But as time rolls on, it looks like Kodak is going down to the matte.

As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, a group of hedge funds, including Cerberus Capital Management LP and Highbridge Capital Management LLC, have tightly cropped the amount they're willing to lend. And Kodak's plans to sell a portfolio of patents to raise cash have simply not developed.

Even though it was a Kodak engineer who invented the digital camera in 1975, the digital revolution passed the Rochester N.Y., company by in a flash. Kodak was deleted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in April 2004, where it had been for 74 years, and it finally faded from the S&P 500 in December 2010.

In the last five years, Kodak's stock has really lost its luminance, falling from more than $30 to just pennies per share. It is reeling from foreign competition. Its main focus has been selling operations and cutting thousands of jobs. And its plans to shift from film to printers just have not panned out.

For avid punsters, a Kodak bankruptcy would be even more fun than the time its iconic 35mm film began to disappear and headline writers went with "Momma, Don't Take My Kodachrome Away." Since photography is a form of poetry unto itself, a Kodak bankruptcy will seem like "all the world's a sunny day."

With a little help from friends on Facebook, I've already begun imagining some headlines we might see in the news very soon if Kodak can't find a way to splice itself back together:

"Kodak Zooms In To Bankruptcy Court."

"Kodak Must Have Lost Its Memory Stick."

"Kodak Shoots Itself In Filing."

"Kodak's Projections Were Too Blurry."

"Late-Working Kodak Attorneys Appear Red-Eyed."

"Kodak No Longer Worried About Its Image."

"Kodak Forced To Shutter More Operations."

"Who Were The Dim Bulbs Who Thought Kodak Could Avert Bankruptcy?"

"Kodak: From 8X10 To Wallet-Sized."

"Creditors Not High On Kodak's Resolution."

"Kodak Begs Lenders To Let It Slide."

"Kodak Employees Want More Transparency."

"Nothing Is In Black & White -- Especially Employee Pension Obligations."

"Kodak May Have Glossed Over All Technological Change."

"Judge Views Kodak Through A Different Lens."

"Kodak Can't Picture A Future."

"Kodak Needs More Fixer Or It Might Soon Become A Wash."

"Kodak Can't Seem To Make Anything Click."

"Judge Warned Not To Make Snap Judgment."

"Maybe Someday Kodak's Prints Will Come."

"Kodak Says It Was Framed."

"Kodak Needs To Just F-Stop."

(Al's Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. Contact Al at al.lewis@dowjones.com or tellittoal.com)