On Jan. 29, Boeing (NYSE: BA ) reported its fourth-quarter earnings and provided guidance for 2014. Clearly, investors were less than pleased with the 2014 core EPS guidance of between $7.00 and $7.20. The stock closed the week down about 1%. But is this drop justified? Or is it simply short-term investor panic?
Beyond the drop
No one likes to hear that EPS could be lower than expected. However, when you're looking at long-term investing, and particularly with a company like Boeing, EPS is only part of the picture. The bigger, and more important thing to consider is backlog. So, lets look at Boeing's.
As of Dec. 31, Boeing's backlog was an incredibly impressive $440.9 billion. That's in comparison with $390.3 billion for the same time last year. What this means is that Boeing's seen an increase in orders, particularly for its commercial airlines. Moreover, Boeing is making a concerted effort to ramp up airline production, which is evident by the fact that in 2013, Boeing delivered 648 commercial airplanes, compared with 601 for the same time last year.
A look into the future
That's a significant safety net for Boeing. Further, the demand for commercial airplanes is expected to increase over the coming years, which is great news for Boeing, and its chief rival for commercial airline sales, European Aeronautical Defense and Space's (NASDAQOTH: EADSY ) Airbus.
That's not to say Boeing's future is without risk. In October, Boeing lost two loyal airlines to Airbus, plus Boeing was largely favored to win a defense contract to supply South Korea with F-15s, but South Korea decided it wanted a fighter with stealth capabilities. Consequently, it's Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT ) F-35 that's now favored to win the $7.7 billion contract.
What to watch
Boeing's lowered 2014 EPS guidance isn't something investors should panic over. Boeing has a strong backlog, and strong potential sales. Still, investors would do well to watch Boeing's orders and see if a trend develops with commercial airplane loses to Airbus. Right now, I don't see that as a pressing issue, but it's something to watch out for -- just in case. However, overall, Boeing's future looks pretty stable.
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