Sun, Mar. 1, 9:08 PM
- As rumored, Samsung's (OTC:SSNLF) Galaxy S6 eschews the plastic-heavy designs of its predecessors in favor a body with a metal frame and both front and back glass panels - both panels use Corning's (NYSE:GLW) recently-launched Gorilla Glass 4 (offers better damage resistance).
- Also as expected: The standard S6 is accompanied by the S6 Edge, a premium model with curved sides. Samsung has also launched a new version of its Gear VR headset (relies on Oculus' VR platform) that uses the S6/S6 Edge for its display instead of the Note 4.
- The S6's display size is unchanged from the S5's 5.1", but (as was the case for the Note 4) the resolution has been upgraded from 1080p to 2560x1440 - that's a positive for OLED materials supplier Universal Display (NASDAQ:OLED). An 8-core Samsung Exynos processor powers international S6 models - Qualcomm Snapdragon processors have historically powered U.S. models, but that might not be the case this time.
- A new fingerprint sensor (previous) only requires users to touch the home button (a la Apple's TouchID) rather than swipe over it, as is the case with the S5's sensor. Synaptics (NASDAQ:SYNA) should receive an ASP boost, provided it remains Samsung's fingerprint sensor supplier and not rival FPC.
- Other features: Wireless charging support; a 16MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, improved software, and an F/1.9 aperture (good for low-light shots); a 5MP front camera that also has an F/1.9 aperture, 32/64/128GB storage tiers (up from 16/32/64GB); and far less bloatware - Samsung claims the S6 has 40% fewer software features than the S5.
- Initial reactions are positive. "Samsung finally builds a premium smartphone," proclaims Ars Technica. The Verge calls the S6/S6 Edge "dramatically nicer and better phones than Samsung has ever produced." More than a few observers have spotted major design similarities with the iPhone 6 (NASDAQ:AAPL).
- The phones go on sale on April 10. Samsung needs a hit: It's coming off a Q4 where its smartphone unit share fell to 20% from 28.8% a year earlier (per IDC) amid stiff competition from Apple and Chinese Android OEMs.
Sat, Feb. 7, 3:09 PM
- "We have developed a new product that will provide sapphire-like scratch resistance while maintaining the legendary toughness and break resistance of Gorilla Glass," Corning (NYSE:GLW) exec James Clappin stated at yesterday's investor meeting. Corning plans to start selling the composite, known for now as Project Phire, later this year.
- Though Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stuck with Gorilla Glass for the iPhone 6 and would-be Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced (OTCPK:GTATQ) filed for bankruptcy - it's now trying to sell ~2K sapphire furnaces to pay off creditors, with stockholders getting anything left over - there's still strong industry interest in sapphire as a potential smartphone cover glass solution due to its scratch-resistance and thinness; Apple has said it will "continue evaluating" GT's sapphire progress.
- Meanwhile, Apple Watch and other smartwatches have adopted sapphire cover glass, and sapphire wafer/materials provider Rubicon (NASDAQ:RBCN) recently announced it's working on "scratch-resistant sapphire-coated faceplates for smartphones and larger devices," as part of a broader effort to expand into new markets. Concerns about the material's cost and brittleness remain.
- Also disclosed by Corning: 1) The Display Technologies (LCD glass) segment is expected to see 2015 earnings growth comparable with 2014 levels. 2) Corning's glass sales related to large-size LCD TVs rose over 50% in 2014 on a unit basis; it forecasts 30%+ growth in large-size LCD viewing area by 2016. 3) The Optical Communications (fiber) business is expected to see high-single digit 2015 growth, aided by strong sales to the last-mile fiber, data center, and distributed antenna markets. (investor day slides)
Mon, Feb. 2, 7:17 PM
- Hap Hewes, a senior Rubicon (NASDAQ:RBCN) exec from 2004-2009, has been re-hired as its SVP of Optical. He'll be in charge of "marketing and business development activity for sapphire products in the aerospace, optical, consumer electronics and industrial markets."
- Rubicon, hungry to lower its exposure to an LED sapphire wafer market plagued by intense price pressure, adds it's working on a several new products for the aforementioned markets. They include "very large, thick sapphire plates for aerospace and defense, scratch-resistant sapphire-coated faceplates for smartphones and larger devices, and a new sapphire growth process." The last product is said to "produce solid sapphire faceplates in the desired net shape, eliminating nearly all of the fabrication costs."
- While would-be Apple sapphire supplier GT Advanced famously filed for bankruptcy after failing to meet tech milestones, mobile industry interest in sapphire cover glass - thinner and more scratch-resistant than Corning's (NYSE:GLW) Gorilla Glass, but also costlier and possibly more brittle - remains high.
- Rubicon's Q4 report arrives on Feb. 12.
Tue, Jan. 27, 10:54 AM
- Following a strong Q4 highlighted by a December guidance hike, Corning (GLW +1.7%) expects LCD glass demand to be down slightly Q/Q in Q1, in-line with seasonality. Price declines are again expected to be moderate.
- Thanks to the Samsung deal and better-than-expected demand (lifted by enthusiasm for 4K TVs and larger sets), Corning's Display Technologies sales rose 69% Y/Y in Q4 to $1.1B. The segment's core earnings rose 26%.
- North American fiber-to-the-home buildouts fueled a 12% increase in Optical Communications sales to $676M, beating guidance for mid-single digit growth and contributing to the revenue beat. 10%+ growth is also expected in Q1.
- Specialty Materials sales (Gorilla Glass-driven) rose 12% to $319M, also better than expected. Corning reports seeing "strong consumer and manufacturer interest" in just-launched Gorilla Glass 4. ~10% Q1 growth is expected for the division.
- Environmental Technologies sales +5% to $238M, driven by demand for light and heavy-duty emissions products. Life Sciences sales +2% to $215M. Both divisions are expected to see roughly flat Y/Y sales in Q1.
- Gross margin rose to 41.4% from 39.3% a year earlier. Adjusting for one-time events, SG&A spend rose 22% to $380M, and R&D spend 24% to $209M. $183M was spent on buybacks.
- A weak yen lowered revenue by $198M. Corning plans to spend $1.3B-$1.4B in 2015 on capex, up from 2014's $1.1B.
- Shares are higher in spite of a 1.7% drop for the S&P.
- Q4 results, PR
Tue, Jan. 27, 7:25 AM
Mon, Jan. 26, 5:30 PM
Thu, Jan. 22, 1:15 AM
- Citing a "trusted source," BGR has provided a detailed list of specs for Samsung's (OTC:SSNLF) upcoming Galaxy S6. Among the specs: A 5.1" quad HD (2560x1440) display, an 8-core CPU (presumably Samsung Exynos) that relies on Samsung/Globalfoundries' new 14nm manufacturing process, a 20MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, and a 5MP front camera with a large f/1.8 aperture (good for low-light shots).
- Samsung's next-gen flagship is also said to use Corning's (NYSE:GLW) Gorilla Glass 4, which was launched only in November and offers improved durability. With other reports stating the S6 will have glass panels on both its front and back (to go with a metal frame), two Gorilla Glass 4 panels might be used.
- Wireless charging is reportedly supported, along with a rapid charging feature that enables four hours of usage on a 10-minute charge. Dougherty thinks IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI) has a decent chance of being the S6's wireless charging IC supplier, and that a design win could yield $112M-$135M in annual revenue.
- Samsung is believed to be prepping both a standard S6 model, and one with curved edges. The S6 is expected to be revealed on March 2, the first day of this year's Mobile World Congress.
- Following a rough 2014, the Korean tech giant appears hungry to deliver new high-end models that stand out relative to the offerings of share-gaining Chinese OEMs. IDC estimates Samsung had a 23.8% Q4 global smartphone share, down from 32.5% a year earlier.
Thu, Jan. 15, 10:57 AM
- JPMorgan's Rod Hall has upgraded Corning (GLW +0.8%) to Overweight, and hiked his target by $5 to $26. His move comes a month after Citi's upgrade, and ahead of Corning's Jan. 27 Q4 report.
- Hall cites expectations of strong 4K/UHD TV growth - one of the factors behind Corning's Dec. 9 guidance hike - and the potential for the company's recently-launched Iris Glass (a light-guide plate solution for edge-lit TV sets) to boost 2016 EPS by as much as 6%.
- Corning is close to its 52-week high of $23.89, and trades for 15x 2015E EPS. The 2015 revenue growth consensus is at 2.2%.
Tue, Jan. 6, 6:40 PM
- Iris Glass is a new LCD light-guide plate (LGP) solution for edge-lit TV sets. It's housed within a TV's LED backlight assembly, and directs/distributes light throughout a set. Corning (NYSE:GLW) asserts Iris can "significantly reduce the thickness of a liquid crystal display TV set, making it as thin as a smartphone."
- The company notes the superior rigidity of glass relative to plastic (more commonly used in LGPs) enables TV makers to build thinner sets. Iris Glass is said to be 36x stiffer than plastic, and to feature 90% less thermal expansion.
- Corning, of course, is already a top supplier of LCD panel glass for the TV market. It's less than two months removed from launching Gorilla Glass 4 (provides improved damage resistance) for the mobile market.
Dec. 18, 2014, 9:20 AM
- Believing TV demand will be strong in the coming years as consumers upgrade their first flat-panel sets, Citi has upgraded Corning (NYSE:GLW) to Buy and hiked its target by $4 to $25.
- Last week, Corning hiked its Q4 LCD glass volume and pricing guidance, while citing stronger-than-expected LCD TV market demand. Both larger screen sizes and the adoption of 4K sets has been boosting demand.
- NPD recently observed 32" and smaller TV sets accounted for the less than half of Thanksgiving week sales for the first time. Demand for larger sets rose sharply, with 50-64" sets seeing more sales than 33-49" sets. 65" and larger sets managed to account for over 5% of volume.
- Stronger demand for larger sets also benefits LCD panel suppliers AU Optronics (NYSE:AUO) and LG Display (NYSE:LPL).
- Yesterday: Dow Corning shuttering plant
Dec. 17, 2014, 5:55 PM
- Corning (NYSE:GLW) and Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) disclose their 50/50 Dow Corning JV is shutting down its Hemlock Semiconductor facility in Clarksville, TN, which makes polysilicon for solar cells and semiconductors. (8-Ks: Corning, Dow)
- The decision was made after a "review of sustained adverse market conditions and continued oversupply, the cost of operating the facility and the ongoing impact of tariffs on polycrystalline silicon imported into China." A $1.5B-$1.6B pre-tax charge will be taken.
- At the same time, Dow Corning has cut its estimate for the company's future liability related to its 1998 breast implant settlement by $1.3B; the liability stood at $1.7B at the end of Q3.
- Corning and Dow Chemical each expect to see a $500M post-tax hit from the closing of the Hemlock plant, and a $400M post-tax benefit from the liability estimate cut.
- GLW +0.9% AH.
Dec. 9, 2014, 10:16 AM
- In a PR issued ahead of a Barclays conference presentation, Corning (NYSE:GLW) says it now expects global LCD glass demand to rise by a low-single digit % Q/Q in Q4, better than prior guidance for a slight decline. Corning forecasts its glass growth to be in-line with market growth.
- Also, Q4 price declines are expected to be "even more moderate than anticipated at the beginning of the quarter.," and Corning expects 2015 price declines to smaller than 2014's due to strong LCD TV demand, a weak yen, and tightening supplies. Demand for both larger sets and 4K TVs is giving the industry a boost.
- Also: Corning says Samsung is using recently-launched Gorilla Glass 4 (offers improved damage resistance) in its high-end Galaxy Alpha phone.
- LCD driver IC vendor Himax (HIMX +2.1%) is following Corning higher on a morning the Nasdaq is down 1.1%. Large-panel drivers accounted for 28% of Himax's Q3 sales.
Dec. 3, 2014, 2:41 PM
- Corning (GLW +2.6%) has hiked its quarterly dividend by 20% to $0.12/share. That's good for a 2.2% yield at current levels. The glass giant's Q1 dividend will be payable on March 31 to shareholders on record as of Feb. 27.
- Corning has also authorized a new $1.5B buyback. It launched a $2B buyback a year ago, and later used it to strike a $1.25B accelerated share repurchase deal with Citi.
- The announcement comes a day after Corning announced a deal to buy Samsung's optical fiber/cable unit, a move that bolsters the Asian presence of Corning's already-sizable optical fiber business. The company's optical communications sales totaled $698M in Q3, +7% Y/Y and equal to 26% of total revenue.
- Shares have rallied following the dividend/buyback announcement, and aren't far from a 52-week high of $22.37.
Dec. 2, 2014, 4:11 AM
- Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF, OTC:SSNGY) is selling its fiber optics business to U.S. glass panel supplier Corning (NYSE:GLW).
- The sale includes Samsung Electronics' production facilities for the business in China and South Korea, a company spokeswoman said, although she declined to comment on details of the sale, including the price.
Nov. 20, 2014, 6:52 PM
- In lab tests, Gorilla Glass 4 was up to 2x as likely to survive a 1-meter, face-down, drop onto a rough surface as Gorilla Glass 3 and other alternatives, Corning (NYSE:GLW) claims - a survival rate of "up to" 80% was seen overall. At the same time, Corning promises GG4 delivers the same optical clarity as its predecessors.
- GG4's launch comes after Apple opted against using sapphire cover glass (thinner and more scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass) in the iPhone 6/6 Plus, reportedly after tests resulted in sapphire cracking during drops. Would-be sapphire supplier GT Advanced is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.
- It also comes after Corning guided for Specialty Materials revenue (driven by Gorilla Glass) to fall by a low-to-mid teens % Q/Q in Q4; soft tablet demand and competition from low-end glassmakers is believed to be taking a toll. Analyst Paul Semeza. "Generally those cheaper solutions are not as good, in physical durability. But for low-end products they could be good enough."
- In addition to mobile OEMs, improved damage-resistance could appeal to automakers - Corning has been trying to sell them on Gorilla Glass' weight-saving potential.
Nov. 17, 2014, 5:40 PM
GLW vs. ETF Alternatives
Corning Inc is engaged in manufacturing of specialty glass and ceramics. The Company's segments are Display Technologies, Optical Communications, Environmental Technologies, Specialty Materials and Life Sciences.
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