Corning: 4Q loss decreases on rising sales

Fiber-optics and LCD substrates maker Corning Inc. reported a much lower 4Q 2003 loss as it booked asset-impairment and litigation-related charges. Sales were stronger than expected as the LCD segment…

Fiber-optics and LCD substrates maker Corning Inc. reported a much lower 4Q 2003 loss as it booked asset-impairment and litigation-related charges. Sales were stronger than expected as the LCD segment continued its good progress. On 22 January 2004 Corning reported a net loss of USD 29 million, or USD 0.02 a share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of USD 709 million, or USD 0.60 a share. The results for the latest quarter included net charges of USD 81 million, or USD 0.06 a share. These included USD 66 million for an asset-impairment charge on Corning“s part of a joint venture, and USD 17 million reflecting the higher value of Corning stock which will be contributed to an asbestos-litigation settlement, plus a USD 2 million tax credit related to restructuring costs. The year-earlier period included USD 1.46 billion in pretax restructuring-related charges and USD 430 million in earnings from discontinued operations. Net sales went up 11% to USD 820 million from USD 736 million. When Corning released its 3Q results in October 2003, it projected 4Q earnings, excluding items, of USD 0.03 to USD 0.04 a share on net sales of USD 740 million to USD 765 million. Fourth-quarter sales in the technologies segment increased 15% from the 3Q to USD 457 million. Sequential sales of LCD glass were an impressive 39% higher on volume growth of more than 20%, favorable foreign-exchange rates and stable pricing. Corning had expected 4Q sequential volume growth of 15% to 20%. For all of 2003, Corning had a net loss of USD 223 million, or USD 0.18 a share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of USD 1.30 billion, or USD 1.39 a share. Last year“s results included USD 351 million, or USD 0.28 a share, in charges. Net sales for 2003 were slightly down by 2.3% to USD 3.09 billion from USD 3.16 billion. Looking ahead, Corning projects 1Q 2004 earnings, excluding items, of USD 0.04 – 0.05 a share on sales of USD 770 million to USD 830 million. The company also expects to sell out of LCD glass during the 1Q in spite of new capacity. As a result, volume is expected to grow 5% to 10% sequentially. “We anticipate demand for flat-screen monitors to remain robust in 2004,” said Chief Financial Officer James B. Flaws in a statement. “LCD television is now in the early stages of acceptance and continuing demand is expected to double market penetration this year.” Corning is scheduled to release forecasts for all of 2004 at its annual investor meeting on 6 February 2004.