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Say Cheese: Polaroid Names Flaherty CFO

The new finance chief has his work cut out for him at the struggling camera-maker.
Jennifer CaplanJune 7, 2001

Polaroid Corp., the troubled camera and film maker based in Cambridge, Mass., today announced that William Flaherty has been appointed CFO effective immediately. Flaherty previously served as CFO at Avid Technology Inc., a digital imaging company. He replaces Carl Lueders, who in January stepped in as acting CFO when former CFO Judith Boynton resigned. Lueders has been named VP of finance.

Flaherty has his work cut out for him at the ailing instant photograph company. Polaroid shares traded at $20 per share a year ago, and nearly hit $30 in the fall of 1999, as sales of instant cameras reached record highs in 1999. Today the shares have hit the ground, trading at about $4.16 each, and the company’s market capitalization is just shy of $200 million. It has recently been struggling to cut costs, reduce debt, improve manufacturing efficiency, trim its product line, and tie its instant developing products to the digital world.

In April, Polaroid posted a first-quarter loss of $91 million, or $1.98 a share, including an $80 million charge tied to its layoffs of 950 people, or 11 percent of its global work force. In the year-ago quarter, the company tallied a loss $1.4 million, or 3 cents a share.

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Earlier this year, Polaroid suspended its dividend payment, one of many recent cost-cutting moves, to reduce its net debt, which stood at $862 million at the end of March. Last month, the troubled company said that for the next two to three years, it is aiming for gross margins in the low 40 percent range, overhead of about 30 percent of sales, and double-digit operating margins.

In other news:

  • Flying High: Miami-based aviation-services group AvGroup Inc. named John L. Phillippe to the posts of CFO and SVP. Phillippe has been a senior associate at subsidiary AvMan Inc. since 1993.
  • Losing Some Speed: Medina, Ohio-based coatings manufacturer RPM Inc. announced that CFO Michael Steele left the company as part of a restructuring that cut 800 jobs since August 1999. Vice chairman James Karman will assume the additional title of CFO. He had previously held that position for more than a decade. Steele, whose last day was a week ago, had joined the company in January. RPM said the restructuring was completed when the company’s fiscal year ended in May.
  • Cutting Through the Fog: Portland, Ore.-based investment group Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc., which specializes in mortgage and real estate related assets, named Scott Stevenson SVP and CFO. Stevenson replaces Chris Tassos who resigned to pursue other interests. Stevenson has been SVP of Fog Cutter since joining the company in 1999. From 1997 to 1999 he was SVP of finance at Wilshire Financial Services Group Inc.
  • A Strong Pulse: Totowa, N.J.-based Vital Signs Inc., which designs, manufactures, and markets medical products for anesthesia and critical care, named Herbert Javer to the CFO post. Javer was most recently SVP and CFO of Gemini Industries Inc. a Clifton, N.J., supplier of electronic, computer, audio- video, and telephone accessories.
  • Fun and Games: Christopher Scoggin joined Phoenix-based resort developer ILX Resorts Inc. as EVP and CFO. He replaces Mike Miller, who left the company for personal reasons.

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