After all the bad news that has beset Kodak in the last year, things appear to be on the up as the company took the number one slot for sales in US in the first quarter of this year. It shipped 900,000 point and shoot digital cameras, a 41% increase on sales this time last year, according to a market research company. Kodak is followed by second-placed Canon (850,000 units), which recorded a whopping 72% increase, and perennial front-runner Sony was ranked third with sales of 800,000 units. UPDATE: Chief executive Dan Carp will step down as president in June, although he will remain in the post until he retires in January 2006. He will be succeeded by Kodak president Antonio Perez, who joined Kodak in April 2003 after 25 years at HP.

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Press Release:

Kodak Board Elects Current President Antonio M. Perez as Chief Executive Officer

Dan Carp Remains Chairman, Announces Plans to Retire at Year-End

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 11 -- Eastman Kodak Company’s Board of Directors announced today that it has elected current President and Chief Operating Officer Antonio M. Perez to the post of Chief Executive Officer, effective June 1. He will succeed Daniel A. Carp, who plans to retire on January 1 after 35 years of service with the company.

Perez will become Chief Executive Officer and President. Carp is currently Chairman and CEO, and he will continue as Chairman until his retirement at the end of the year, when Perez will become Chairman in addition to his responsibilities as CEO and President.

“Kodak is privileged to have the strategic vision and experience of Dan Carp and Antonio Perez to lead us through this challenging transformation,” said Richard S. Braddock, Presiding Director of Kodak’s Board of Directors. “Dan embraced the digital opportunity, and recruited Antonio as the leader who will advance Kodak’s success in digital markets. Both have focused on guiding customers through the industry’s technology shift, by developing a broad portfolio of digital products and services to complement the company’s silver halide offerings.”

Carp, 57, became President and COO in January 1997, and was elected to the company’s Board in December of that year. He became CEO in January 2000 and Chairman in December 2000. He joined the company in 1970 as a statistical analyst, and during his career served as the general manager for Kodak in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as Latin America and Canada.

“It has been an honor to lead this great company through a time of unprecedented change,” Carp said. “I am proud of the progress made by Kodak people, and I am proud of the management team that we have assembled to lead us into digital markets.

“When I recruited Antonio, I did so expecting that one day he would be selected by the Board to succeed me as CEO for Kodak,” Carp said. “That day has now come. It is time for me to turn over the reins to Antonio, who has contributed so much to Kodak in such a short time. I am confident in his ability to continue the transformation, and I will leave with the satisfaction that Kodak’s future is in the hands of such a capable, innovative leader.”

Perez, 59, joined Kodak in April 2003 after a career that included 25 years at Hewlett-Packard Company, where he was a corporate vice president and a member of the company’s Executive Council. His tenure at HP included serving as President of the Consumer Business, where he spearheaded the company’s efforts to build a business in digital imaging and electronic publishing. Prior to that assignment, he served as President and CEO of HP’s inkjet imaging business.

Just prior to joining Kodak, Perez served as an independent consultant for large investment firms, providing counsel on the effect of technology shifts on financial markets. From June 2000 to December 2001, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Gemplus International, where he led the successful effort to take the company public in December 2000.

A native of Spain, Perez studied electronic engineering, marketing and business in Spain and France.

“I am proud to accept the responsibility of leading this great company as we continue our transformation into a digital growth company,” Perez said. “Dan Carp began this journey, and I thank him on behalf of all Kodak people for his enormous contributions. In the tradition of Kodak’s founder, George Eastman, he has led with intelligence, humanity and great passion.

“I consider it a personal mandate to carry on the important work that Dan and the Board of Directors launched. During the last two years, I have worked closely with Dan and the Board to create and implement a powerful digital vision for Kodak, based on our core competencies and our brand and distribution power. We are in the early stages of our transformation, with much hard work before us; and we have the ability to deliver what we promised to our shareholders, our customers, and our employees. I thank Dan and the Board for the opportunity to drive Kodak to greater success in all the markets we serve.”

Carp and Perez will address the company’s shareholders today at Kodak’s Annual Meeting, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. EDT at Theater on the Ridge in Rochester, New York. The meeting will be webcast, and the webcast can be accessed by clicking on the Web Casts button at http://www.kodak.com/go/presscenter.