By Darrell Etherington
Corning (GLW) announced its quarterly results today, and the company beat Wall Street expectations despite a drop in quarterly earnings, thanks in part to a 14% year-over-year increase in sales. Sales for Q4 2012 topped $2.14 billion with sales of Corning's Gorilla Glass, the ultra durable material used in the construction of many smartphones and tablets including Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and iPad, exceeding $1 billion for the year.
Corning said the strength of Gorilla Glass sales helped drive its "Specialty Material" sales up 68% when measured year over year, and up 10% from the previous quarter. Corning reiterated that this reflects the over 1 billion consumer and IT devices that are now using Gorilla Glass as a key component. Corning is prepping new ways to exploit the success of its Specialty Materials division, including Gorilla Glass 3, which got a very dramatic debut at CES 2013 thanks to some stress testing that showed just how much stronger it is than previous iterations and alternate materials.
Another innovation from Corning is its work making new optical Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables that actually deliver on the promise of extremely long cable sizes that suffer no negative effects in terms of throughput speeds for data transfer. The optical cables aren't powered, but they can do 10 gbps (up and down, simultaneously) on Thunderbolt, and 5 gbps for USB 3.0. These will likely be big sellers for professionals and advanced consumers who need to network an office or house but don't want the sacrifices in data transfer speeds that Wi-Fi entails.
Corning may face competition down the road from Samsung's flexible displays, but it's likely to see its fortunes continue to grow for the foreseeable future as mobile computing continues to trend upward and more devices come to market.