In an exclusive interview with



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CFO Jim Flaws said he still expects liquid crystal display or LCD TVs to double last year's growth, hitting 10% of the total volume of televisions sold this year. "The rest of the industry is catching up" in terms of sharing that forecast, he said.

Flaws defended Corning's role as LCD industry forecaster. While admitting to lessons learned from poor predictions in the past, Flaws argues that the better Corning understands the business, the better it can justify strategies like LCD factory expansion plans.

In addition, Flaws sees

Best Buy's

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comments Friday calling for as much as a 35% drop in TV prices as "good news" for Corning. As a big supplier in the LCD food chain, the glassmaker says it is helping to drive down costs by trimming its own production expenses an average of 13% per year from 1997-2004, says Flaws. That, in turn, allows the company to maintain its profit margins even as prices for finished goods decline and benefit from the higher sales volume generated by those lower prices; Corning expects overall market growth of 40% to 60% in 2005, he said.

The finance chief also discussed the outlook for Corning's optical fiber business and, like many investors, awaits word on


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efforts to sell advanced services over its fiber-to-the-home offering. Corning is a fiber supplier to Verizon. Verizon predicts it will have service available to 2 million homes in 2005 and Flaws said the early indications are that it is "on track" to reach that goal.

Corning is scheduled to discuss first-quarter earnings on April 27; citing quiet period restrictions, the CFO declined to discuss the forthcoming results.