Corning shares fall on fears of lower LCD demand

NEW YORK (AP) -- Corning Inc. shares fell in midday trading Friday, a day after the specialty glass maker said that its third-quarter sales of glass for LCD TVs will be lower than it originally forecast.THE SPARK: Corning said Thursday that use of the glass remains low as the industry prepares for retail demand for the televisions to slow in the second half of this year.Corning now expects sales at its wholly owned business to be flat from the most recent quarter, down from its previous expectation of an increase in the mid-to upper-single digit range. And volume at Samsung Corning Precision Materials Co. Ltd. is expected to be down 30 percent from the second quarter. Originally, Corning said it expected a decrease in the mid-single digit range.THE BIG PICTURE: Sales of televisions and other discretionary, big-ticket purchases tend to falter when consumers are feeling less confident about their jobs and their wallets. While sales of LCD TVs have been up so far this year, Americans are still struggling with high unemployment, scant raises and steep gas prices. Many economists worry that the U.S. is at risk of slipping into another recession.THE ANALYSIS: Sterne Agee analyst Vijay Rakesh estimates that the decrease from Samsung should cut earnings by about 6 cents per share in the current quarter. He now expects Corning to earn 43 cents per share down from a previous forecast of 49 cents. He also cut his estimates for the full year and next. He reduced his price target on the stock to $24.He sees further risks to the company's top line, including lower prices as the company builds up capacity and future demand remains uncertain.SHARE ACTION: The stock fell 66 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $13.70 in midday trading Friday. Corning shares have been on a steady decline since March and hit a year-low of $13.15 per share in late August. They've recovered somewhat since.