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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Corning reports near break-even results; have happy times returned to the fiber industry?

Corning reports near break-even results; have happy times returned to the fiber industry?

Yesterday, Corning, the world's largest fiber manufacturer, reported a second quarter loss of just $22 million, due in part to pretax charges of $75 million.

Here's what Corning had to say about the fiber portion of their business in the second quarter:
"Corning’s telecommunications segment sales were $347 million, a slight decline from $352 million in sales for the first quarter. As expected, the quarterly sales decline was due to lower fiber and cable volumes in Asia, resulting from seasonal slowdowns in Japan. Fiber volume declined in the second quarter by 20 percent, slightly less than the company expected. Fiber pricing in the second quarter was down about 5 percent. The fiber and cable sales decline was partially offset by sequential increases in the hardware and equipment business."

And here's their outlook for the fiber business in the third quarter:
"Third-quarter fiber volumes are expected to increase sequentially in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent due to renewed demand in Japan and a slight increase in North American orders. Pricing pressure is anticipated to remain moderate, at a level consistent with the second quarter."

Overall, they expect to be able to report a small profit in the third quarter.

This report was received enthusiastically in Japan, boosting the share price of Corning competitor Furukawa Electric, the world's second largest fiber cable manufacturer. (Forbes report)

We think Corning's results reflect in part the increasing role of other businesses (especially glass for LCD displays) in Corning's overall results as well as stabilization of Corning very shrunken (by year 2000 standards) fiber business. The fiber optic cable industry overall remains depressed, but most of the remaining major players will survive. The fiber cable market will continue to slowly recover. Fiber prices may rise somewhat this year but will remain depressed by historical standards for at least another year or two.


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