- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Specialty glass and ceramics maker Corning Inc. said Thursday it expects to turn a first-quarter profit, excluding special items, thanks to an increase in glass orders over the past several weeks.

Corning did not previously expect a profit. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters are predicting earnings of a penny per share. These estimates typically exclude one-time items.

The company, whose largest business is LCD sales, said that “encouraging data” from panel makers and LCD television retail sales is showing that the display supply chain “is performing as predicted.”

Corning now expects total glass volume for the first quarter to be flat to down 5 percent sequentially, compared with its original guidance of down 20 percent to 25 percent.

The company did say it still expects “significant” glass price declines for the first quarter in its wholly owned business when compared with previous quarters.

Needham analyst John Harmon upgraded Corning to “Buy” from “Hold” Thursday, citing the “dramatic rise” in the company’s LCD glass guidance.

“With LCD glass recently contributing about 90 percent of Corning’s net income, this represents a major turning point in the company’s fundamentals,” the analyst wrote in a note to investors.

Shares of the Corning, N.Y.-based company rose 31 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $12.81 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in the 52-week range of $7.36 to $28.07.

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