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June. The month means different things to different people. To kids: "School's out for the summer, hurray!" To parents: "School's out for the summer. Now what are we going to do with the kids?" And to Boeing (NYSE: BA ) investors: The year's almost half over, and we're still stuck at square one.
Boeing goes to zero
As we enter the sixth month of the year, you see, Boeing's still right back where it was at the year's beginning -- at least as far as plane orders go. The past five months and change have seen the company book 65 news orders for planes of various stripes -- 737s and 747s, 767s, 777s, and of course the vaunted 787 Dreamliner. Which would be great ... except that Boeing can't seem to keep hold of the orders once it's got 'em.
So far this year, Boeing has lost precisely as many commercial jetliner orders as it has landed, with the result that right now, this instant, the company's stuck at zero. Not a single new order, net-net, all year long. That sounds like bad news for Boeing, and for the people who make its engines -- General Electric (NYSE: GE ) and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) , but ...
... appearances can be deceiving
That doesn't tell the whole story. Even if all of Boeing's planes are equally good, some are more equal than others. Last week, for example, Boeing lost five orders for variants of its 767 airliner. On the plus side of the ledger, it added five orders for its 787. That sounds like a wash, but really it isn't. According to Boeing's price list, the average price on a brand new 767 is about $150 million -- which is the least amount that the smallest 787 will set you back. Average sticker price on a Dreamliner: $178 million.
Less than zero
But it works the other way around, too. So far this year, Boeing's failure to get the 787 built and delivered on schedule has helped cost it 44 cancellations. Boeing bulls will tell you, however, that it's mitigated the damage by selling 41 737s, the plane that dominates the fleets at Continental (NYSE: CAL ) and Southwest (NYSE: LUV ) . Problem is, the narrow-body 737s go for $69 mil. a pop on average -- meaning that it takes roughly two-and-a-half 737 sales to offset every 787 wide-body order canceled.
Next time someone tells you that "Boeing's a buy" because it has $350 billion in backlogged work and, well, maybe it's not booking any new orders, but at least it's holding steady, remember -- not all orders are created equal.
What's worse than losing plane orders? Losing a labor dispute: