updated 4/21/2004 9:31:31 AM ET 2004-04-21T13:31:31

Eastman Kodak Co., battling through a painful transition from film to digital photography, more than doubled its first-quarter profit and narrowly beat Wall Street forecasts.

The world's biggest film manufacturer said Wednesday it earned $28 million, or 10 cents a share, in the January-March period, up from $12 million, or 4 cents a share, a year ago.

Without gains related to a recent acquisition and a tax benefit, operational earnings were 18 cents a share.

That beat the consensus forecast of 17 cents among analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Benefiting from the dollar's weakness, sales rose to $2.92 billion from $2.64 billion.

Kodak grew into an icon on the strength of its traditional film, paper and photofinishing businesses. It is aiming to invest $3 billion in digital markets — consumer photography, commercial printing and medical imaging — over the next three years.

The company axed about 6,000 jobs last year and, in January, announced plans to cut an additional 12,000 to 15,000 jobs by 2007. That will trim its worldwide work force to World War II-era levels of around 50,000. It will trim some 2,500 to 3,500 jobs this year, it said.

Two weeks ago, Kodak was dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Kodak had belonged to corporate America's most exclusive club since 1930.

Kodak has said it expects digital imaging to account for half of its profit and 60 percent of sales by 2006, up from nearly 30 percent now.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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