Corning Incorporated Earnings: Can the Stock Keep Soaring?

Corning has taken full advantage of the smartphone revolution, but investors want to know if its expanded partnership with Samsung will bear out in faster earnings growth.

Jan 26, 2014 at 2:45PM

Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW) will release its quarterly report on Tuesday, and investors have applauded some of the specialty glassmaker's recent moves to take maximum advantage of the rise in demand for its innovative glass products. Yet even though most investors tie the success of Corning to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and other small-device makers, the company's recent expansion of its partnership with Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) could well play a much more pivotal role in helping Corning grow in the years to come.

Corning has helped drive glass technology forward for decades, pioneering important milestones such as fiber optic cable and discovering untapped uses for glass products along the way. Yet most of the attention Corning has gotten lately has focused on its protecting glass coverings for expensive consumer-electronics products such as Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy series of devices. Still, in order for Corning to maximize its growth, it would ideally prefer to sell its products in larger quantities than just a few square inches at a time. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Corning over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its report.

Glw
Source: Corning.

Stats on Corning

Analyst EPS Estimate

$0.27

Change From Year-Ago EPS

(21%)

Revenue Estimate

$1.93 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

(10.1%)

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

4

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Which way are Corning earnings headed?
In recent months, analysts have had mixed views on Corning earnings, cutting $0.06 per share from their fourth-quarter estimates but boosting their full-year 2014 projections by $0.08 per share. The stock has taken the longer-term view, soaring 22% since late October.

Corning's third-quarter earnings report left investors somewhat worried about the glassmaker's future. Earnings dropped 22% from year-ago levels, missing estimates, despite seeing revenue rise 1%. Of more concern was the company's warning that fourth-quarter results would fall from third-quarter levels, citing normal seasonal declines as well as a downturn in its sales volume of optical fiber products in North America and China.

But the most important news for Corning during the quarter actually came before its formal report. The company said in late October that Corning would take control of the Samsung Corning Precision joint venture with Samsung, and as part of the deal, the mobile-device maker would take a direct 7% stake in Corning. Investors cheered the move, with CEO Wendell Weeks arguing that synergies should help produce huge profit gains. Perhaps more importantly, Corning hopes that the deal will help bolster sales of large displays in the Asian region, as the display segment has been sluggish for Corning despite representing almost half of the company's overall sales.

Regardless, product innovations will remain important for Corning, even at the small-device level. Moves like creating antimicrobial versions of Gorilla Glass as well as its larger touch-screen Gorilla Glass NBT and its push toward commercializing 3-D shaped and curved glass draw attention to the company and introduce an important artistic element to its products. Those touches will be increasingly important as product manufacturers seek to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

In the Corning earnings report, watch for more on the progress of the newly expanded Samsung partnership, which it just completed a couple weeks ago. In addition, be sure to look at Corning's much-neglected segments, including the key Life Sciences area, to see how ancillary divisions are doing at contributing to Corning's overall growth.

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Click here to add Corning to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger owns shares of Apple. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Corning. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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