Seeing no slowdown ahead, Corning ( GLW) beat estimates and raised the bar for the first quarter. The tech glassmaker posted adjusted earnings of 40 cents a share in the fourth quarter, up 2 cents from the third quarter and a penny better than analysts had expected. Sales for the quarter were $1.58 billion, up sequentially to $1.55 billion from the in the prior quarter. Analysts were looking for sales of $1.5 billion. The solid results help calm concerns that consumers may not be as free with their spending on items like big flat-panel TVs as the economy cools.
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Corning expects to post a pro forma profit of 42 cents on sales in a range between $1.59 billion to $1.62 billion. Analysts had expected a seasonal slump in the first quarter calling for adjusted earnings of 36 cents on sales of $1.52 billion. "We have good momentum in our display business heading into the first quarter," CFO Jim Flaws said in a press release. "Looking forward, we anticipate the LCD glass supply and demand balance will remain tight throughout the year, absent the impact of any potential downturn in the economy," Flaws continued. For the year, Corning boosted pro forma earnings 26% to $1.41 from $1.12 in 2006. And sales grew 13% to $5.86 billion from $5.2 billion. Sales of liquid crystal display or LCD glass for TVs and computer monitors grew 10% sequentially and 25% over the year-ago period. Corning's telecommunication supply business dipped 9% sequentially following seasonal trends. The company also saw a dip in its vehicle emission filter business, down 5% sequentially, but up 22% from the same period a year ago. "As of today, we have not seen any significant impact from a potential slowing of the U.S. economy other than the slowdown in the trucking industry, which will negatively impact our diesel product sales," Flaws said in a press release. Corning shares rose $1.18, or 5%, to $23.55 in pre-market trading Monday.