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Corning Sheds Light on Optical Trends

Ray Le Maistre
2/5/2010
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China gave Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW)'s optical fiber business a significant boost in 2009, but that growth will slow in 2010, while fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments haven't yet generated as much demand as hoped, notes the cable vendor as it hosts its investor meeting in New York City today. (See Corning Sees 2010 Growth.)

According to the company's press release (curiously, written in the future tense), the general manager of Corning Optical Fiber, Martin Curran, will today tell the company's shareholders and analysts that demand for fiber "grew by more than 17% in 2009, driven by continued investment in the China broadband infrastructure," but that "as the China 3G network build slows this year, Corning expects that worldwide optical fiber demand will level off and be even with or down about 5% compared to last year’s strong performance." (See China Pumps $15B Into 3G.)

Corning is optimistic about future demand from the communications networks sector, though. "We believe that innovation will drive future growth opportunities,” as, while FTTH installations have been "slower than anticipated," the vendor expects government incentives and investments in fiber networks to drive new demand. "We also expect the data center market to grow significantly over time, driven by video-based content creation," Curran will surely add. (See Policy Watch: Stimulating Rural America , KPN Sticks With IPTV for Its FTTx Future, French Still Slow on FTTH Uptake, APAC Streaks Ahead in FTTH, China Set for DSL, FTTH Boom, Australia Unveils $31B FTTP Plan, Portugal Telecom, Corning Target GPON, and FTTH Europe: Slow Growth Forecast.)

The vendor has also identified new growth opportunities based on two existing technology platforms, "fusion-formed flat glass and bendable optical fiber." (See Corning Bends It and Corning Unveils 'Armored' Cable.)

Chairman and CEO Wendell Weeks (surely one of the industry's finest monikers) is confidently predicted to explain that "the rapid growth of intuitive touch-display for consumer electronic devices, advanced glass for thin-film photovoltaics, and optical fiber for consumer electronics and wireless networks are providing us with such opportunities." (See Gadget Watch: Android & RIM Strike Back.)

Corning, which also generates revenues from the display and environmental technology sectors, generated full year revenues of $5.4 billion in 2009, of which $1.68 came from its telecom business, which sells optical fiber and copper cables, as well as associated hardware, such as connectors, splicers, etc.

In 2008, Corning generated total revenues of $5.95 billion, of which $1.8 billion was generated by the telecom business.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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