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Corning (GLW) Matches Estimates, Display Business Improving

We’ve come to take for granted that our smartphones and tablets will have quality glass displays that will be scratch resistant, break-resistant and touch responsive. And that’s exactly what Corning GLW promises with its glass substrates.

And that isn’t all; the company also offers fiber optics for communications networks, auto products for environmental compliance and other glass products for life science applications.

Just recently, Corning acquired Alliance Fiber Optic Products (AFOP) for $350 million, which will likely be folded into the existing Optical Communications business. The segment has grown year over year in each of the past 11 quarters and now comprises 33% of revenue. AOFP has cloud presence, so it brings attractive growth opportunity to Corning, particularly given the increasing data flow through mobile and IoT devices that are constantly communicating with the cloud and each other. Other advantages include its presence in Asia and the scope for cost synergies.  

Management is on track to generate $20 billion of cash through 2019, half of which will be returned to shareholders with the remainder going back into the business. They also completed an accelerated share repurchase program in January, returning $1.25 billion to shareholders and increased the dividend by 12.5%.

Corning shares have appreciated 25%+ since the company reported second-quarter results. However, that has resulted in a P/E of 14.93X, higher than the communications component supplier industry, which is currently in negative territory. Ditto for the PEG of 2.37X, meaning that the shares are currently overvalued.

On the glass side of things, Corning is behind the displays in TVs, smartphones, etc. Receding inventory and stabilizing prices in the LCD TV market are positives for this business. It also offers cover glass in the form of Gorilla Glass and is expanding applications for this technology (Ford’s new lightweight windshield is an example).

While estimates moved down after the company reported December quarter numbers they have been stable after that and in fact moved up in the last seven days indicating rising confidence. Additionally, the company has a good track record: it has met or exceeded estimates in each of the last four quarters at an average rate of 3.75%.

The shares carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

We have highlighted some of the key details from the just-released announcement below:

Earnings: GLW matched earnings estimates. The Zacks Consensus Estimate called for EPS of 28 cents and the company’s core earnings adjusted for one-time pre-tax expenses/income also came to 28 cents per share (this is the number more comparable to our consensus). The GAAP loss was 36 cents a share.

Revenue: Corning missed on revenues, which at $2.05 billion was well short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.22 billion.

Key Stats: All segments declined from last year with Display, Specialty Materials and Optical Communications down double-digits. The weakness in Optical was attributed to production issues associated with manufacturing software implementation issues of approximately $100 million in sales and $40 million in profit.

Display increased sequentially and the company successfully finalized customer supply agreements for the remainder of 2016.Environmental Tech also grew sequentially.

Stock Price:GLW shares aren’t trading yet. They were down 0.1% yesterday.

Check back for our full write up on this GLW earnings report later!


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