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Corning Inc (NYSE:GLW) used to be a "glass" company. It still is, but calling it that is to ignore the amazing things that Corning is doing with glass and ceramics these days. We ain't talking windshield replacement here.

I strongly recommend you spend a pleasant 5 1/2 minutes or so reviewing the video on their website where they show that the future is now using glass and ceramics to improve our everyday lives. (It's called "A Day Made of Glass" and is actually more easily found by entering that title on YouTube, where Corning has uploaded it. Either way you choose to view it, it is slick.) GLW's products straddle the line between consumer discretionary and consumer staples. Sure, you can live without a computer monitor or a television, both of which the company manufactures the specialized glass for, but if that's how you get your news and entertainment, how many families will forego one or both? How many kids today think these are merely discretionary items?

This 160-year old company has so thoroughly transformed itself that it is a "Thoroughly Modern Millie." It now manufactures glass substrates for active matrix LCDs that are used in notebook computers, flat panel desktop monitors, and LCD televisions. It produces optical fiber and cable, cable assemblies, fiber optic hardware, fiber optic connectors, optical components and couplers, and other equipment essential to the telecommunications industry. It employs ceramic technologies for emissions and pollution control in mobile and stationary applications, including automotive and diesel substrate and filter products. And it provides general labware and equipment, as well as tools for cell culture and bioprocess, genomics and proteomics (I had to look "proteomics" up, as well: "The branch of genetics that studies the full set of proteins encoded by a genome") and high-throughput screening. This segment also develops and produces various technologies, such as the Corning HYPERFlask Cell Culture Vessel for increased cell yields.

Short translation: Corning figuratively makes the picks, shovels, tents and jeans, a la Levi Strauss, who made his fortune not looking for gold but selling to those who did. In Corning's case, they make the essentials others need to find the next biotech breakthrough.

GLW can be bought under 20. Anywhere between 16 and 20, at a trailing PE of 8 to 9, I think it is well worth your further due diligence!

Disclosure: We, and/or those clients for whom it is appropriate, are long GLW.

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Source: Corning Glass: The Modern Levi Strauss of Biotech