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Corning (GLW) Boosts iPhone Glass Production with Apple Funds

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Corning Incorporated (GLW - Free Report) has secured a $45 million investment from Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) to augment the production capacity of its glass manufacturing facility in Harrodsburg, KY. In addition to strengthening the mutual business relationship, the funding is likely to boost the local economy through job additions while fostering the research and development initiatives of the company.

Over the years, Corning has been a steady supplier of precision glass components for iPhone, Apple watches and iPads. Starting from the first iPhone model, it has been diligently manufacturing screen glasses for every generation of iPhone. Corning even manufactures Ceramic Shield – an extra tough glass-ceramic screen material currently used in iPhone 12 model. Notably, the Ceramic Shield features nano crystals that are produced in the Harrodsburg facility.

The investment is part of Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund – a $5 billion fund which doles out money to foster technological innovations and other social initiatives, such as accelerating COVID-19 testing kit supplies. Incidentally, Corning has already secured $450 million funds under this program over the past four years to help contribute to the overall economic development of the region.

Although the company did not divulge the exact usage of the current funding, industry experts believe that it could be channeled for the development of bendable glass for upcoming foldable iPhone models. The investment gains prominence at a time when certain media reports claim that Apple is mulling to use indigenously built baseband 5G chips for its iPhone models starting from 2023. This, in turn, has cast a big shadow on Qualcomm Incorporated (QCOM - Free Report) that has been supplying chips to the iPhone manufacturer.  

Further, the investment is likely to be a timely boost for Corning as it continues to secure government funds to augment the domestic manufacturing capacity of glass vials for vaccines. In addition to corporate social responsibilities for contributing to the overall cause of vaccination and treatment of COVID-19 patients, the federal funds for the Life Sciences segment are likely to help the company strengthen its position as a leading packaging provider in the healthcare sector.

Corning recently received additional $57 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (“BARDA”), which forms part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The BARDA funding is obtained under the White House’s Operation Warp Speed Initiative that aims to develop, manufacture and distribute coronavirus vaccine. With funds worth $204 million received earlier in June 2020, the company has thus secured substantial financial resources to contribute to the surging demand of pharmaceutical glass tubing and vials.

The investment will facilitate Corning to scale up its manufacturing capabilities at three U.S. facilities — Big Flats, NY; Durham, NC; and Vineland, NJ — to bridge the demand-supply gap for glass containers as pharma companies accelerate vaccine production. In particular, Corning will speed up the production of indigenously-built Valor Glass, which is specifically designed for pharmaceutical use with superior chemical durability and minimal particulate contamination for faster and more reliable drug manufacturing and delivery.

Corning expects to deliver 6-8% compound annual sales growth and 12-15% compound annual earnings per share growth through 2023, while investing $10-$12 billion in RD&E, capital, and mergers and acquisitions. It also plans to expand operating margin and ROIC and deliver $8-$10 billion to shareholders, including an annual dividend per share increase of at least 10%. To achieve its goals, the company expects to add an incremental $3-$4 billion in annual sales and improve profitability by the end of 2023. The company is extending performance under its 2020-2023 Strategy & Growth Framework, and focusing on improving its product portfolio and utilizing financial strength to enhance shareholder returns.

The stock has gained 129.9% over the past year compared with the industry’s rise of 78.1%.

We remain impressed with the inherent growth potential of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock. Another top-ranked stocks in the industry is Altice USA, Inc. (ATUS - Free Report) , sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Altice delivered an earnings surprise of 61.5%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.

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