Corning expects high demand for TV glass

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 7:15am
Ben Dobbin, AP Business Writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) – Corning Inc. said Friday that strong sales of flat-screen televisions, computers and handheld devices will again boost demand for its liquid-crystal-display glass this year.

The specialty glass maker, which is holding its annual investor meeting in New York, said the global appetite for LCD-TVs and laptops will be the primary driver behind an anticipated 14 percent to 22 percent jump in LCD glass industry volume in 2010.

Total glass volume could reach 3 billion square feet, up from 2.45 billion square feet in 2009, it said.

Corning expects 171 million LCD-TVs will be sold this year, about 21 percent more than last year.

Based in western New York, Corning is the world's largest maker of LCD glass, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the market.

The company said it plans to boost investment in China, building its first glass-melting factory there – possibly this year – at a cost of $400 million to $700 million.

Growth of LCD-TVs sales in North America will slow as market penetration in the United States reaches 90 percent this year, and China will become the global leader in total TV sales – about 70 percent of them LCD models. The Chinese market for LCD-TVs could reach 37 million, up 32 percent from 2009.

Corning expects a modest gain in sales and earnings this year but has not provided specific guidance. In 2009, its profit slid 62 percent to $2.01 billion, or $1.28 per share, on a 9 percent drop in sales of $5.4 billion.

Because LCD glass is its biggest business by far, a market dip last winter triggered by recession jitters prompted Corning to cut 3,500 jobs. 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.

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