Corning Inc: Boom or Bust (part1)

In this 1st Part of our analysis of Corning Inc, we will start by detailing the company’s activities and general history in order to get a better idea of where we should focus. Companies have an heritage and set of values that are resilient to time, we should find them and understand where they are driving the company. So let’s start:

Corning is a company with 160 years of tradition in glass and ceramics products. During the past century the company has invented and developed several products related with glass. The R&D is at the core of the company strategy. Corning has a track record of products that include the development of the glass used in Edison’s bulb, the invention of a toughened  windshield which later was the base for LCD glass. In the 70’s the company was responsible for the invention of the fiber optics. More recently the first iPhone used the Gorilla Glass developed by Corning specially for touchscreen devices.

Today the company is structured in 5 main departments:

Display Technologies: Glass substrates for LCD flat panel televisions, computer monitors, laptops, and other consumer electronics. Corning’s glass substrates enable the thin, high-resolution, multi-function displays that are so vital for the current entertainment devices. Corning’s technological innovations brought a new life to durable electronic devices used at work, home, and on the go. As vivid organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and next-generation liquid crystal displays (LCDs) evolve new markets are opening for the company.

Telecommunications: Optical fiber cable, hardware and equipment for telephone and Internet communication networks. Corning is aware of the growing demand for bandwidth, therefore providing telecommunications network solutions, developing innovative optical connectivity solutions that deliver high-quality broadband capabilities for the Enterprise, Carrier, and Wireless markets, as well as the expanding frontier of consumer electronic devices. Corning’s telecommunications technologies are expanding its focus to meet demands in the mobile industry.

Life Sciences: Glass and plastic material for laboratories, as well as label-free technology, media, and reagents for cell culture, genomics and bio processing applications. Corning brings to market a comprehensive line of glass and plastic labware, as well as label-free technology, media, and reagents for cell culture, genomics, and bioprocessing applications. By supplying high-quality tools and research technologies, the company is committed with driving efficiency for researchers and lab technicians seeking to compress costs and timelines during drug discovery.

Specialty Materials: Cover glass for consumer electronics, advanced optics, and specialty glass solutions for a number of industries. From cover glass for consumer electronics to advanced optics for high-technology industries, Corning develops customer-driven solutions.

Environmental Technologies: Ceramic substrates and diesel filters for emission control systems. The materials and process expertise in ceramic substrates have made Corning a key developer of emissions-control products for the world’s major manufacturers of gasoline- and diesel-powered engines and vehicles. Corning’s advanced ceramic substrates and diesel particulate filters set the standard for catalytic converters and help control pollution.

What we get from this superficial analysis is that the company is driven by R&D, more specifically by glass and ceramics related R&D. This is very important since it will determine the way we will analyze the company. We will have to focus primarily in the ability of the company to develop and bring to market new products. We will have to evaluate the R&D organization of the company so that we can have an idea of the success probabilities of the incoming products.

We will also have to understand where the new significant growth is coming from, therefore we will analyze the growth prospects for the five units presented.

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