Perhaps like many people, when I think of Corning (NYSE:GLW), I think of glasses, plates, and similar consumer goods. Corningware, with its blue cornflower trademark, was a staple in my house growing up. While I might associate the company with dinnerware, I'd be wrong. The cornflower dishes were spun off in 1998, and today, Corning is a high-tech company primarily honing liquid crystal displays for notebook computers, desktops, and TVs. It's also making optical fiber and cable for the telecommunications industry.

If you enjoy the ever-expanding size of your LCD TV screens, thank Corning technology, which allows the glass substrates to be made in larger sizes at lower prices. Corning is the world's largest manufacturer of such ultra-thin displays. In telecommunications, it faces the twin threat of intense competition and excess capacity for its fiber-optic cables, though it's still among the industry's leaders in that area. These two segments account for three-quarters of Corning's revenues.

CAPS' take
More than 1,100 professional and novice investors alike have weighed in with their opinion at Motley Fool CAPS, overwhelmingly voting that Corning will outperform the market. Nearly a quarter of those Bullish investors are considered All-Stars, top-rated players who consistently outperform their peers.

CAPS All-Star davidengi07, who sports a 98.39% player rating, recognizes the challenges facing the glass maker:

A high quality, high tech, blue chip, NYSE company that is in the midst of bouncing back from the telecom slump earlier this decade, Corning has great upside potential and continues to innovate. There is definitely room to grow in the LCD market; though less so in the fiber optics market; and then there's their greatly underestimated offerings for emissions controls. With an ever greening political climate in the USA and Europe, new legislation will compel the automotive industry in particular to provide increasing demand for Corning's products. They are diversifying, cost-cutting, and seem to have learned some lessons from the high tech bust. Always a risky industry, but look for Corning to have a strong last six months of 2007, reaching $28 per share or so within a year.

Another All-Star who ranks higher than 97.82% of all other CAPS investors, saxonglass, thinks a Corning niche industry could be a catalyst for future growth:

Everyone focuses on Corning's flat panel business, but the kicker is the catalytic converter for diesel engines. The growth in diesel may well be rapid over the next several years, particularly in the U.S. With flat panel and catalysis going together GLW is likely to excel.

My take
Corning has been on a growth trajectory as a result of high demand for LCD screens. Despite its total debt of $2.5 billion, including underfunded retirement benefits, Corning's financial picture is improving, leading the major credit agencies to raise their ratings of the company.

At 20 times trailing earnings, it sports a slight premium to competitors Tyco (NYSE:TYC) and 3M (NYSE:MMM). But on a forward basis, it's right in line with their valuations. Considering the outlook for production of LCDs, it seems to this Fool that continued improvement will be anything but flat.

Your take
Is the outlook on Corning as clear as the CAPS community thinks, or will kinks in the fiber-optic cable business uncoil its results? Make your voice heard and let us know.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is crystal clear.