Before I delve into our strategy, I’d like to share Corning’s financial results from last year. Our core sales were $11.7 billion, up 2% from 2018, driven by growth in Environmental Technologies, Specialty Materials, and Life Sciences. Core earnings per share were $1.76. During 2019, we set new four-year targets for growth and capital allocation, we increased our dividend, and we demonstrated our ability to generate significant operating cash flow even with market performance below our expectations. Strong capital stewardship is a cornerstone of our management approach.
Once again, we outperformed our underlying markets in each business segment. We grew Environmental Technologies sales 16% against a backdrop of declining car sales. We grew Specialty Materials sales 8% while smartphone units were down. In Life Sciences, we exceeded industry growth rates on the strength of new bioprocess and advanced cell culture products. In Display Technologies, our glass volume grew at a mid-single digit rate even though TV unit sales were down. And, in Optical Communications, we outperformed the passive optical market, which declined.
We entered 2019 with strong momentum following two years of solid growth, and that growth continued in the first half of the year. In the second half, we felt the impact of challenging global market conditions, particularly in Display Technologies and Optical Communications.
In Display Technologies, we experienced a temporary supply chain adjustment. Set makers purchased panels more conservatively, which drove panel maker utilization reductions in the second half. As panel makers purchased less glass, our volume declined accordingly.
In Optical Communications, after sales increased 13% year over year in the first half, they declined 16% in the back half. Changes in spending by two large customers accounted for a significant portion of the year-over-year decline.
We acted quickly to mitigate lower-than-expected second-half demand in both Display Technologies and Optical Communications. While everyone in the company relentlessly executed by making careful program choices, controlling spending, and increasing operational efficiencies, our profitability declined along with factory utilization due to decreased volume.
We expect to return to sales and profit growth in the second half barring external disruptions that could severely affect our ability to conduct normal business operations. In Display, we see indicators that the supply chain correction has ended, and we expect to resume volume growth in 2020, with the majority reflected in the second half. We also plan to start production at our next Gen 10.5 plants, which will support faster-than-market growth as they ramp. In Optical, we expect year-over-year growth in the second half, driven by projects for 5G, fiber-to-the-home, and hyperscale data center deployments. As volumes in both businesses increase, so will our factory utilization, improving the profitability of the corporation.