Is Eric Cantor's Shocking Loss Horrible News for Boeing's Future?

Boeing, RwandAir Announce Order for 2 737-800s. Photo: Boeing.  

In a what could be described as the primary upset of the century, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suffered a stunning defeat to Tea Party-backed challenger, and relative political unknown, Dave Brat. While this is undoubtedly great news for the Tea Party, Brat's win could spell major trouble for Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) . Here's why.

The Export-Import Bank controversy
You may not have heard of the Export-Import Bank, or Ex-Im, but that doesn't mean you're not financing it. Created in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ex-Im's purpose is to provide taxpayer-backed loans, guarantees, and insurance, for foreign purchases of United States' goods. However, while this purpose may sound harmless, there are many who see Ex-Im as nothing more than an example of crony capitalism. Here are two of the reasons for this assertion:

Boeing 737-900ER. Photo: Boeing.

First, Ex-Im's mission states, "We assume credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept." In other words, Ex-Im provides deals that private lenders aren't willing to touch -- keep in mind that taxpayers are on the hook for these deals, which now total approximately $134 billion. 

Second, Ex-Im provides favorable deals to foreign businesses, which can have a negative impact on American companies. For example, Forbes reports that 40% of Ex-Im's resources are used to back loans to foreign buyers of Boeing's jets. While this is great for Boeing, Delta Airlines (NYSE: DAL  ) , as well as a number of other American airlines, claims that this financing is negatively impacting their ability to compete against foreign airlines in the global marketplace.

The fight on Capital Hill
Those are just two of the many reasons some lawmakers want to disband Ex-Im. However, there are many -- Eric Cantor included -- who argue that Ex-Im helps drive exports, as well as provide financing to small businesses, thus helping to create jobs. In fact, Cantor was such a strong advocate for Ex-Im, that his loss puts the future of Ex-Im in jeopardy, and the reason is straightforward. 

This year, Ex-Im is up for another five-year reauthorization, and is looking to increase its lending cap from $140 billion to $160 billion. With Cantor gone, Bloomberg reports that senior policy analyst for Guggenheim Securities LLC, Chris Krueger, believes that reauthorizing Ex-Im could be an "even more high-profile/challenging fight." 

What this means for Boeing

Artist rendering of the 737 MAX 8. Photo: Boeing.

According to Bloomberg, Ex-Im's financing for foreign airlines will support $10 billion of Boeing's 2014 sales. However, if Ex-Im isn't reauthorized by Sept. 30, it won't be able to finance new deals. That's bad news for Boeing. In fact, when news of Cantor's loss hit the news, Boeing's stock dropped from $137.35 a share on June 10 at 4 p.m., to $132.50 as of June 13 at 11 a.m. Moreover, Boeing has a history of profiting from Ex-Im financing, and the loss of it could prove to be painful for Boeing's foreign airline sales. Of course, that's supposing that Ex-Im isn't reauthorized.

Right now there's no way to know for certain what Congress will do when it comes to Ex-Im. If Congress decides not to renew Ex-Im's authorization, it's likely that Boeing's stock will take another hit. However, that's not to say it's time to sell Boeing's stock. Boeing is a massive company with a backlog of $440 billion as of its first-quarter report. Further, when it comes to commercial airplane sales, Boeing is one of the biggest players in the world. As such, while the loss of Ex-Im could prove to be detrimental to Boeing's short-term stock price, it could also prove to be a great opportunity for investors looking for a long-term investment. Consequently, investors would do well to continue monitoring congressional debate over Ex-Im's future.

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Katie Spence

Katie Spence has been a financial journalist for The Fool since 2011. She specializes in defense companies, “green" technology, autos, and robots. Follow her on Twitter for breaking news in the defense, auto, and robot industry.

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