TVs, Smartphones Help Corning Cash In

Corning, perhaps today’s ultimate glassmaker, is cashing in handsomely from the glass it sells for LCD displays, smartphones, tablets and more. The company just announced its profits are up 41%. From the Wall St Journal:

The maker of glass used in LCD screens on TVs, computer monitors and other electronics has enjoyed soaring profit in recent quarters as demand has risen. But demand slowed in the third quarter, with the company cutting its outlook for glass volume as panel makers pulled back production to deal with excess inventory.

The company’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, used in smartphone and tablet computer screens, is positioned as the next growth driver. Sales at its smaller specialty materials soared 79% from a year earlier on strong sales of its Gorilla glass and strong performance in advanced optics.

Gross margin widened to 43.5% from 42.2%. Display technology sales, its largest segment on that basis, improved 5% as volume rose 10%.

Since World War II, Corning has had disruptive innovation in its DNA. The company was employing its usual strategy when Steve Jobs disrupted the phone and mobile PC market. Corning, always up for a new innovation, invented Gorilla Glass, which in turn became the new industry norm. (Corning’s annual lobbying efforts probably don’t hurt, either.) The point is that if you’re a company nimble enough to innovate quickly the second you see new kinds of products taking hold, and your innovations apply directly to those problems, you have a mean business model.