The Clear Investment Choice

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Glass isn't a sexy business, but Corning (NYSE: GLW) is making it just that. While the decline in TV demand has lead to some concerns over Corning, there's no need to worry; enter its newest game changer, Gorilla Glass. 

Corning's Gorilla Glass is an extremely tough and scratch-resistant glass that's being used in mobile phones, tablets, notebooks and other applications. The rise of smartphones and tablets is a long-term positive for Corning.

Corning's management believes growth for Gorilla Glass will go from 20 million units in 2010 to 180 million units in 2014. Some of the other promising markets for Gorilla Glass include uses in autos and electronic appliances. Although its Gorilla Glass could be a game changer, Corning's display-technologies segment only accounts for just over 30% of revenue. 

Telecom for the future

Corning's other major segment includes telecommunications, which also makes up 30% of revenue. The telecom space is another one of Corning's biggest opportunities for the near future. This segment's sales are expected to be up 20% year-over-year this year as the demand for high-bandwidth services increases due in large part to the increased usage of mobile data and cloud computing.

Last quarter, the segment's revenue was up 27% sequentially, well above company guidance of 20%. This comes as growth in wireless, fiber and cable and data-center projects in China took hold. 
 
Industry shakeout

PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG) is another major diversified-products company. The company is over a century old and has six major segments, which include glass, various coatings, and specialty materials. 

PPG's glass segment makes flat glass, where the majority of its products are sold to manufacturing companies. PPG has a leading position in paints and coatings, and is seeing marked growth in its auto segment in North America. 

Earlier this year, the company separated its commodity and chemical business. Billionaire Nelson Peltz might be pushing for DuPont to further break itself up, and in February the company sold-off its paints business. Thus, it would be no surprise to see PPG spin-off more assets over the near term. 

Scotch tape?

3M (NYSE: MMM) is another vastly diversified company. Back in 1902, when the company was founded, it was known has the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.
 
Now the company has five segments, which include industrial, safety and graphics, electronics and energy, healthcare, and consumer. Household-product brands include Post-it, Scotch, Scotch-Brite, and Scotchgard. One of 3M's initiatives going forward should be continuing to divest non-core assets.
 
On the other hand, 3M is also active in the acquisitions market. Acquisitions are expected to add 1.5% to sales in 2013. 3M's 2Q EPS came in at $1.71, versus the $1.66 for the same period last year and sales are projected to be up 4% in 2013. 

Bottom line

Corning pays the best dividend yield at over 2.3%:

The glass company appears to be a compelling investment opportunity, trading at under 12 times earnings. Also, analysts expect the company to grow EPS at an annualized 12% over the next five years, putting its PEG at 1.0. I like Corning, not just for its Gorilla Glass, but also because the company has impressive exposure to telecom. Meanwhile, a couple of the other great diversified-products companies are also compelling investment opportunities -- PPG and 3M. 

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Marshall Hargrave has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 3M and Corning. The Motley Fool owns shares of Corning. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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