Boeing Announces 2014 Deliveries for China and General Dynamics Beats Estimates

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Without any major economic data releases today the market is struggling to find direction, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is 0.25% lower in midafternoon trading. As of this morning only 65 members of the S&P 500 index have posted quarterly earnings; look for the market to find direction in the new year as more of those earnings turn out for the better or worse. Bloomberg reported that roughly two-thirds of the earnings so far have beaten profit and revenue estimates. Here are some companies making headlines today.

Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) , one of the Dow's most-weighted components, is trading 1.9% higher today after announcing it would this year deliver roughly 140 aircraft to China, the world's second largest economy. This will be something for investors of the aviation juggernaut to watch going forward. Boeing already has a massive backlog of orders worth roughly $415 billion, and that's a figure likely to grow when the company releases its fourth-quarter results on Jan. 29. Now it's time for the company to ramp up production and start increasing deliveries to customers in a timely fashion. Successful operations in those areas will have a direct impact on the stock's potential over the next few years. 

Outside the Dow, General Dynamics (NYSE: GD  ) this morning topped estimates on earnings and revenue in its fourth-quarter report. Revenue in the fourth quarter totaled $8.1 billion. The company produced earnings from continuing operations of $624 million, or $1.76 per share on a fully diluted basis. Net earnings came in at $495 million, or $1.40 per share, due to a $129 million loss in discontinued operations related to the A-12 aircraft litigation settlement. 

For the full year, company margins checked in at 11.8%, an increase from last year's low 2.6%. General Dynamics' backlog of orders checked in at $46 billion at the end of 2013; when you include management's estimates of "indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity," or IDIQ, contracts the figure balloons to $73.6 billion. That's more than double the amount of revenue generated by General Dynamics last year.

Going forward, investors will need to keep tabs on how U.S. defense budget cuts hurt General Dynamics' combat and marine systems segments. So far it appears its aerospace segment is growing strong enough to offset potential declines in thse sectors, but it will definitely be a situation to keep tabs on in 2014.

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