Corning Posts $108.5 Million Profit
CORNING, N.Y. (AP) _ Despite getting squeezed by the turmoil in Asian markets, Corning Inc. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit soared 25 percent on vigorous sales of optical fiber and specialty glass.
The materials company posted a net profit of $108.5 million, or 47 cents a share on a diluted basis, up from $86.6 million, or 38 cents a diluted share, in the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by First Call Corp. expected a profit of 48 cents a share.
Sales rose 8.6 percent to $1.085 billion from $999 million.
The Far East financial crisis chipped away at sales and profits toward year’s end but will hit Corning much harder in the first quarter. It expects January-to-March earnings to fall 30 percent from a year earlier, when it racked up unusually high fiber sales.
Sales of optical fiber, optical cable and opto-electronic components, the company’s largest and fastest-growing business, jumped 20 percent in the fourth quarter while profits grew 30 percent.
Corning also reported a sharp jump in demand for high-purity fused silica glass used in the manufacturing of semiconductors. Profits were up about 50 percent on top of a gain in sales of almost 20 percent.
But earnings from joint ventures, such as television-glass maker Samsung Corning in South Korea, plunged 35 percent largely as a result of Asia’s economic meltdown.
And environmental products such as anti-pollution devices for automobiles and trucks posted modest gains while consumer products sales dropped 10 percent to 15 percent as demand contracted in Asia.
For all of 1997, Corning posted a net profit of $439.8 million, or $1.92 a share, up from $175.6 million, or 76 cents a share, in 1996. Sales for the year rose 12 percent to $4.13 billion from $3.68 billion.
Corning’s fourth-quarter performance was ``very strong, although at a lower growth rate than the year as a whole,″ said Chief Executive Roger G. Ackerman.