Hewlett-Packard solid, Corning shattered

November 18, 2008: 10:06 AM ET

By Scott Moritz

It was a tale of two techs Tuesday. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) surprised Wall Street on Tuesday with a fourth-quarter earnings report that beat analysts' profit and sales targets. HP shares soared nearly 14% in early trading.

Meanwhile, glass maker Corning (GLW) warned of a sales shortfall in the current quarter as demand for its flat-screen TV and computer panels drops faster than anticipated. Shares fell nearly 12%.

HP posted preliminary adjusted earnings of $1.03 a share, which compares with 84 cents in the year-ago quarter and beats analysts estimates by 3 cents. Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 31 were $33.6 billion, an 19% improvement from revenues of $28.3 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts were looking for sales of $33 billion, according to Thomson First Call.

The recent acquisition of IT service shop EDS so far has helped HP dodge the full impact of the impending recession. "Our ability to execute in a challenging marketplace differentiates HP, enabling it to increase share, expand earnings and emerge from the current economic environment as a stronger force," CEO Mark Hurd said in a statement.

Looking ahead, HP predicts pro forma profit of about 94 cents a share on sales of $32.25 billion in the first quarter ending in January. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 93 cents a share on $33.7 billion in sales. HP says it will release its October quarter earnings Nov. 24.

Corning, however, continues to struggle with order cuts as flat-panels and big-screen TV inventories pile up. The company, the largest maker of liquid crystal display screens for televisions and computers, says fourth-quarter sales will fall below its guidance of $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion. It warned that profits will be at the low end or below its prior guidance of $0.20 to $0.28 a share. Corning did not offer revised financial targets.

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