Kodak plunges after finance director resigns

WALL STREET turned on Eastman Kodak yesterday, driving its share price down more than 10 per cent after it announced the resignation of a new finance director who had been a favourite with investment analysts.

Christopher Steffen, a cost-cutter recruited two months ago to address concerns about Kodak's performance, issued a statement saying only: 'The company and I disagree on the approach to solving its problems.'

Kodak's chief executive, Kay Whitmore, said Mr Steffen, 53, left 'not because we disagreed on what needs to change, but because we could not agree on the process for making that change happen.' He promised to unveil his own financial improvement plan by the end of the year.

Analysts said they were stunned by Mr Steffen's announcement, which came as Kodak reported flat operating earnings for the first quarter.

Mr Steffen had promised dramatic improvements at Kodak, a pledge that has resulted in a gain of almost dollars 3.5bn in the company's market valuation since February.

The clash of cultures at Kodak, which has been loath to take drastic cost-cutting measures, was the subject of a front-page story in yesterday's issue of the Wall Street Journal, in which Mr Whitmore is quoted as saying that Mr Steffen 'will not last very long . . . if he comes in here assuming he's the Lone Ranger'.