It has been ugly on Wall Street lately. Investors are spooked, consumers have prepared for the worst and businesses remain defensive. The Greek debt debacle is stealing recent headlines, but don’t fool yourself — persistent problems of high joblessness, a battered housing market and huge losses at financial firms continue to take a toll on the entire global economy.
While the big picture still is unfolding, there are a few stories for particular players that are rapidly approaching an unfortunate end. Victims of both the general downturn and of specific troubles related to their businesses, these iconic American brands are about to disappear.
We’ve already seen some retail big names go under in the past few years — Linens ‘n Things, Circuit City, Borders — but these aren’t exactly huge brand names. They are, after all, simply merchants who sell products from third parties.
But this latest wave of looming failures could be different because it will mean the end of some of the biggest American brands in history.
Here are those three iconic companies on the brink:
Eastman Kodak (NYSE:EK) saw its stock step off a cliff recently thanks to news that it was scrambling for cash just for “general business purposes.” Not a good sign when you need to ask for a loan just to keep the lights on.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Kodak has failed to transition into the digital photography age. A decade ago, Interbrand ranked Kodak as the 16th most valuable brand in the world, worth $14.8 billion — but every year since, the Kodak brand has fallen in both rank and value as consumers continue to identify it as an anachronism akin to rotary dial telephones and VHS tapes. The numbers at Kodak have been brutal as legacy film sales evaporate and its branded digital cameras and printers can’t fill the gap fast enough.
Its “best” year in recent memory was 2008, where it managed to post one good quarter and squeak out a full-year profit. Throw in a tough consumer spending environment, and Kodak seems destined to go to zero soon. That’s a sad fate for a company that once was synonymous with shutterbugs nationwide, but let’s be realistic. America’s “Kodak moment” seems to have come and gone — forever.