Corning: LG Display Results Add to LCD Weakness Fears

 |  Includes: AUO, GLW, LPL
by: Eric Savitz

Corning (NYSE:GLW) shares are down again today, with a new round of concerns about weakening end-market demand.

Yesterday, the stock was down sharply after the glass maker’s largest customer, LCD panel maker AU Optronics (NYSE:AUO), reported weaker-than-expected results in June.

Today, panel maker LG Display (NYSE:LPL) reported results for the June quarter, raising additional worries on the market. Revenues came in considerably short of expectations. On a conference call with the Street, LG Display said results in the latest quarter were hurt by natural disasters in China, and a consumer shift in the U.S. market to small LCD TV sizes due to the economic slowdown. The company also said some IT customers made inventory adjustments in the quarter. LG Display sees a September quarter percentage increase in shipments in the low 20s, offset by a low-teens decline in pricing. Inventory at the company increased by 35% in the quarter, according to ThinkPanmure’s Vijay Rakesh.

Meanwhile, Davenport & Co.’s F. Drake Johnstone this morning cut his rating on the stock to Buy from Strong Buy; he trimmed his price target to $31 from $35. He also cut his EPS estimates for the company: for Q3, he goes to 45 cents, from 49 cents; for ‘08, $1.85, down from $1.90; for ‘09, $1.95, down from $2.09. Johnstone said the adjustments reflect “the uncertain near-term demand outlook for the LCD television sector.”

Ajit Pai, an analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners, late yesterday trimmed his own numbers for Corning, asserting that “the weight of the evidence increasingly points to softening demand and a rising supply-demand imbalance, particularly evident in the dramatic drop in panel shipments and prices in June and early July.” He cut his 2008 EPS estimate to $1.98 from $2.03; for 2009 he goes to $2.04, from $2.07. Pai rates the stock Market Weight, with a $24 price target.

At close, Corning was down $1, or 4.69%, to $20.30, but it is recovering after hours, so far up 42 cents to $20.77.