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Corning (NYSE: GLW ) has enjoyed a nice run in 2013, with the stock's value increasing 43.5% on the year. In fact, at around $17.73 apiece today, shares are trading near a 52-week high. Nevertheless, the stock still looks cheap at just 11 times next fiscal year's earnings. Looking to the future, Corning is trading at a discount to its potential. Let's take a closer look at what moved the stock in 2013, and where shares are headed in the New Year.
Creating long-term shareholder value
In October, Corning announced that it will take over its joint venture with Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF ) for making high-tech LCD glass for televisions and smartphones. The news sent shares of Corning soaring to a two-year high. As part of the deal, Corning will acquire Samsung's remaining 43% stake in their joint venture, Samsung Corning Precision Materials. Moreover, this arrangement creates tremendous value for Corning shareholders going forward.
For starters, the agreement is a way for Corning to bring overseas cash back to the United States without paying exorbitant taxes on the transaction, according to The Wall Street Journal. That's important, particularly because Corning stands to gain $1.2 billion in cash that's currently on the Samsung Corning Precision Materials balance sheet.
On top of that, Corning agreed to supply LCD display glass to Samsung through 2023 as part of the deal. This long-term supply agreement means steady future demand for Corning in an otherwise unpredictable global LCD market. This is key, because Corning's display technology business currently accounts for as much as 80% of Corning's total net profits.
Raise a glass to the future
Looking ahead, Corning's bendable Willow Glass should also be a growth driver -- particularly as more companies look to roll out devices with flexible glass displays. Samsung already has smartphones on the market with curved glass displays, such as its Samsung Galaxy Round, as does South Korean device maker LG. However, while both Samsung and LG offer smartphones with curved OLED displays, neither is truly flexible.
That's why Corning's Willow Glass could be a game-changer. The specialty glass and materials manufacturer says that "the thinness, strength, and flexibility of the glass have the potential to enable displays to be 'wrapped' around a device or structure." Ultimately, the potential applications for Corning's Willow glass in the consumer-electronics market are immense.
Separately, Corning's dividend offers investors another reason to pile into the stock. Corning continues to increase its dividend, which currently boasts a yield of 2.3%. Earlier this year, management also raised the amount of its share repurchase program. As a result, Corning has returned around $3 billion to shareholders through repurchases over the past two years. Additionally, with a payout ratio of just 30%, Corning should have no problem continue to grow its dividend in the years ahead.
This, together with growth in its display technologies business, makes Corning a compelling stock pick for 2014. Of course, it's not the only stock destined for greatness in the New Year.
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