Skift Take

This is music to everyone's ears except Airbus, which would have liked to see its rival's woes spread across its balance sheet.

Boeing Co’s first-quarter earnings jumped nearly 20 percent, handily beating analysts’ estimates and showing little impact from the 787 Dreamliner problems, sending the company’s shares up 3.2 percent in premarket trading.

Boeing, in its quarterly report on Wednesday, stood by its sales and earnings forecasts for the full year, reassuring investors that it expects to deliver all of the jets it had planned, including Dreamliners.

The company did not release a cost estimate for the Dreamliner problems, as some analysts had expected. Batteries overheated on two of the new jets in January and led regulators to ground the plane, effectively halting deliveries.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved Boeing’s fix for the battery system last week, and Dreamliner deliveries are set to resume shortly. Boeing and airlines already are prepping the planes for a return to passenger service.

First-quarter net income rose to $1.1 billion, or $1.44 a share, from $923 million, or $1.22 a share, a year earlier.

Core earnings, which exclude some pension charges, were $1.73 a share. On that basis, analysts had expected $1.49, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue slipped 2.5 percent to $18.9 billion, hit by a halt in Dreamliner deliveries.

Analysts did not expect the cost of the Dreamliner fix to be significant compared with the $20 billion expense of developing the jet and the $120 billion in estimated costs for its initial production run. The 787 is designed for 50 years of production.

In any case, investors were prepared to overlook the cost of the fix, analysts said, because it has been amply flagged and factored into the stock price. Boeing shares have risen 18.6 percent since regulators grounded the Dreamliner on Jan. 16. In premarket trading Wednesday, the stock was up a further 3.3 percent at $91.10.

Analysts focused on the ability of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit to rake in cash by delivering jets – cash that can be used to buy back shares, pay dividends or invest in new airplane programs, all of which are considered positive for the stock price.

Cash fell by $2 billion in the latest quarter, less than some analysts had expected. And Boeing’s confidence about its ability to make up the Dreamliner deliveries in the rest of the year allayed fears about further cash depletion.

“The market was likely apprehensive as to what the (Dreamliner) cost might be, but this quarter’s performance and confirmed guidance put those concerns to rest,” said Carter Leake, senior equity analyst for aerospace and defense at BB&T Capital Markets.


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Tags: airbus, Boeing, earnings

Photo credit: The Boeing logo is seen on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane in Long Beach. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

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