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Kodak's Second Life on the NYSE Begins (Update 1)

Tickers in this article: BX KODK NYX
Updated from 10:28 a.m. ET with comments from CEO Antonio Perez in an internal memo sent to employees

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Eastman Kodak on Friday began trading on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time since emerging from an over 18-month bankruptcy process in September that re-positioned the company away from consumer products.

Kodak's shares gained 1% to close at $26.25, valuing the Rochester, N.Y.-based commercial printing company at a market capitalization of nearly $1 billion.

"This is a notable achievement," Kodak CEO Antionio Perez wrote in a memo sent to employees, obtained by TheStreet. "This re-listing validates we are moving forward as a technology company and that the NYSE believes we have the financial stability and market interest to rejoin other leading technology companies represented there."

Perez said that the company intends to ring the opening bell of the NYSE in the near future.

"As always, thank you for your efforts in helping Kodak reach this point," Perez said in the memo. "Now let's push for a strong close to 2013, and show the outside world the renewed energy and confidence we have as a new Kodak."

The company's shares last traded on the NYSE on Jan. 19, 2012, the day the over 100-year old film and camera pioneer fell into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Since then, Kodak has dramatically altered its business model, divesting most of its film, imaging and digital operations, and re-doubling its focus on commercial printing.

Kodak said in September it is on track to earn $167 million in 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), an improvement of more than $300 million from last year. The company will also have a balance sheet with worldwide cash that exceeds debt by roughly $800 million.

The company believes that after decades of declines to its once-dominant film business, it now is in a position to grow. Kodak forecast in September that it may earn nearly $500 million in EBITDA by 2017.

The Transformation

Kodak's return to the NYSE , the exchange where it traded for many decades and was once considered a blue-chip technological pioneer alongside the likes of IBM and Hewlett-Packard , is a turnaround story.

In its heyday, Kodak's film business was also among the world's most recognizable brands, such as Coca-Cola soda. The company, however, has divested most of its best-known consumer products such as photographic film and digital cameras, and it is now a specialized player in high-tech manufacturing businesses that include commercial and functional printing.

The bankruptcy process allowed Kodak spin off its non-core film and document imaging assets to its U.K. pension fund, in a crucial move that resolved liabilities with its largest unsecured creditor and presaged the firm's post-Labor Day bankruptcy exit. Kodak also sold Kodak Gallery to Shutterfly and a portfolio of digital imaging patents to a consortium of technology industry giants such Apple and Google.