Corning 4Q results top analysts' estimates

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CORNING, N.Y. (AP) — Corning's fourth-quarter net income more than doubled, helped in part by lower expenses and charges. The glass maker's results beat analysts' estimates.

The company also said it expects first-quarter price declines for LCD glass, used in TV screens and other electronics, to be greater than in previous quarters. Analysts said that may be pressuring the stock. The shares fell in Tuesday afternoon trading.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Corning Inc. earned $421 million, or 30 cents per share. That's up from $155 million, or 10 cents per share, a year earlier.

Removing certain items, earnings were 29 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 27 cents per share.

Selling, general and administrative expenses and research, development and engineering expenses fell in the quarter. Restructuring impairment and other charges dropped to $71 million from $133 million.

Revenue declined 9 percent to $1.96 billion from $2.15 billion, but still topped Wall Street's estimate of $1.94 billion.

Specialty materials segment sales dropped 29 percent mostly because customers built up inventory a year ago. Sales for the display technologies unit fell 5 percent.

Full-year net income rose 20 percent to $1.96 billion, or $1.34 per share, from $1.64 billion, or $1.09 per share, in the previous year. Annual revenue fell 2 percent to $7.82 billion from $8.01 billion.

Corning anticipates first-quarter LCD glass price declines to be higher than previous quarters. The company said the price drops are not related to its Samsung Corning Precision acquisition or recent supply contract renewals. It expects the price declines to return to moderate levels after the first quarter.

Corning expects to sell more of the glass this year because of growing appetite for larger-screen televisions and tablet computers.

Stifel Nicolaus' Patrick Newton said in a client note that the weak LCD glass pricing is likely weighing on the stock, along with ongoing Gorilla glass inventory issues and pressure on profitability.

But the analyst reaffirmed a "Buy" rating, partly on Corning's focus on returning capital to shareholders and its solid free cash flow.

Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald agreed that the LCD glass pricing outlook was probably pressuring the shares. He also believes higher-than-expected first-quarter operating expenses and lackluster Gorilla glass sales are potential factors in the stock's decline.

The analyst kept a "Hold" rating.

Shares of Corning dropped $1.10, or 6 percent, to $17.12 in afternoon trading.

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