Corning Inc. to build yet another ultrathin-glass plant

Corning Inc. said Wednesday it plans to build a second factory in Taiwan to manufacture liquid-crystal-display glass, a sizzling business that helped the materials company recover from an alarming nose dive in 2001.

Preliminary funding for the plant in Taichung in central Taiwan was approved by Corning's board of directors ahead of Thursday's annual shareholders' meeting. The cost of the plant won't be revealed immediately, spokeswoman Elizabeth Dann said.

In February, Corning said it was investing $600 million over the next two years to boost production of the ultrathin glass at its plants in Tainan in southern Taiwan, and Shizuoka, Japan. It spent $180 million last year to expand manufacturing at those plants.

The glass is used in flat-screen computer monitors and televisions.

The investments will allow Corning "to keep pace with rapid industry growth and increased migration" to larger TV and computer screens, particularly in Taiwan, said Donald McNaughton, senior vice president of Corning's display technologies group.

Corning expects LCD glass volume to grow 30 percent to 50 percent a year over the next several years.

Driven by a surge in sales of LCD glass, the company posted a surprisingly strong $55 million profit in the January-March quarter. Sales in its display technologies business surged to $230 million from $117 million in last year's first quarter.

In sharp contrast, the telecommunications industry's slump in 2001 forced Corning to shut down 13 plants and nearly halve its work force to around 22,000.

More than half of Corning's optical fiber business, which remains the world's largest, has been mothballed and isn't expected to resume production until at least late this year.

600450 Corning Inc. to build yet another ultrathin-glass plant

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