Tags: US | Earns | Corning

Corning Net Nearly Triples on TV Glass Demand

Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010 10:29 AM

Corning Inc. said Tuesday its profit almost tripled in the fourth quarter on surging sales of glass for flat-screen televisions and computers.

The world's largest maker of liquid-crystal-display glass, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the market, expects industry volume to grow 16.7 percent to 2.8 billion square feet this year from an estimated 2.4 billion square feet in 2009.

"We began 2009 with a high degree of uncertainty," said Chief Executive Wendell Weeks.

But he said momentum picked up and the second half of 2009 "was particularly strong for LCD glass demand as consumers continued purchasing LCD televisions, laptop computers, and other electronic devices that use our glass."

Corning earned $740 million, or 47 cents a share, in the October-December period, up from $249 million, or 16 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, its profit was 44 cents a share, beating Wall Street's forecast of 42 cents a share.

Sales jumped 41 percent to $1.53 billion from $1.08 billion a year ago and exceeded analysts' forecasts of $1.45 billion.

Nonetheless, its shares fell 56 cents, or 3 percent, to $18.16 in morning trading Tuesday.

Corning expects the display glass market to be stronger in the current quarter than its previous forecast of slightly lower seasonal demand. Volume in its wholly owned business should grow 8 percent to 12 percent in the January-March period compared to the fourth quarter, it said.

"We're still finalizing our end market and glass market forecast for 2010, but they will both likely be higher than previous estimates," Chief Financial Officer Jim Flaws said in a conference call with analysts.

After an alarming slowdown in late 2008, LCD glass demand veered higher last February and has gradually picked up pace.

Because LCD glass is its biggest business by far, last winter's market dip prompted Corning to cut 3,500 jobs. Based in the city of Corning in western New York, the 159-year-old glass pioneer also makes ceramic auto-pollution filters and is the world's largest producer of optical fiber and cable. It employs 24,500 people.

Sales in its display technologies segment leaped 86 percent to $717 million from $390 million in last year's fourth quarter when jittery panel makers slashed glass purchases to reduce a buildup in inventories as prices sank.

DisplaySearch, a market-research firm based in Austin, Texas, estimates that 140.5 million LCD-TVs were shipped worldwide in 2009, up 32 percent from 106.4 million in 2008. In North America, shipments are expected to rise 21.5 percent to 36.5 million in 2009 from 30.1 million in 2008.

Analyst Paul Gagnon projects global LCD-TV shipments will jump 22 percent to 171 million units in 2010.

Sales in Corning's telecommunications unit were unchanged from a year earlier at $405 million. An anticipated slowdown in fiber-to-the-home sales and seasonal declines in North America were offset by strong optical fiber sales in China and private-network demand in North America.

Environmental technologies sales rose 41 percent to $181 million from $128 million, driven by strong demand for auto-pollution filters as the industry rebuilds inventories.

Life-sciences sales rose 56 percent to $117 million, reflecting Corning's acquisition of Axygen BioScience Inc. as it shifts beyond a heavy focus on display glass. It bought the maker of plastic labware and liquid handling products for research labs for about $400 million in September.

For all of 2009, Corning earned $2.01 billion, or $1.28 a share, down 62 percent from $5.26 billion, or $3.32 a share, in 2008. Sales fell 9 percent to $5.4 billion from $5.9 billion.

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On the Net: http://www.corning.com

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Corning Inc. said Tuesday its profit almost tripled in the fourth quarter on surging sales of glass for flat-screen televisions and computers.The world's largest maker of liquid-crystal-display glass, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the market, expects industry volume...
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2010-29-26
Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010 10:29 AM
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