Corning ( GLW) CFO Jim Flaws says the record low prices ahead for liquid crystal display TVs will prime the pump for strong demand. Corning's predictions about supply and demand haven't always proven accurate. For example, about a year ago the company was stiffed by two glass panel customers, causing a few red faces and a
sudden shortfall in the display business. But Flaws explains that last year, Corning's customers raised prices on computer monitors. That chilled consumer purchases. This time around, Flaws sees low prices working to clear plenty of inventory in the coming holiday season. "What we were shipping in third quarter will be sold in fourth quarter," Flaws said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. "I think consumers will be pleased with what they are seeing. And going forward sales growth will be more about TVs than computer monitors." Corning reported third-quarter results and provided a business outlook Wednesday that sent the stock down slightly . One negative surprise was a big drop in telecom hardware sales in the recent quarter. Telcos like Verizon ( VZ) use electronics from Corning to provide fiber optic connections to homes. The drop in orders, says Flaws, was the result of Verizon's overbuying in the prior two quarters. But Flaws says that cycle should work in Corning's favor next quarter. "I think they worked off most of their inventory, so we may see a slight increase in the fourth quarter," says Flaws. Sequentially, Corning's fiber volume growth was about 15%, within the range the company predicted in September. But back to predictions.
Looking ahead to the end of the fourth quarter, Flaws says, if growth in display glass volume lands somewhere in the forecast 3% to 10% range, the company will hit its 60% LCD glass growth for the year. That looks like a nice call, since Flaws said in April that Corning would exceed the industry growth rate, which he
pegged at 50% . But investors weren't exactly in the mood to be betting on Corning's predictions Wednesday. Corning shares were down 16 cents to $17.80 in after-hours trading.