Boeing Company Earnings: Why the Sky's the Limit


Source: Boeing.

On Wednesday, Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) will release its quarterly report, and investors have pulled back a bit on their enthusiasm about the aerospace giant by bidding its shares down somewhat from its all-time highs earlier this year. Even as orders continue to pour in, figuring out how to integrate production of components from General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) , United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) , and other suppliers into its own efforts to boost production remains a big challenge for Boeing. Yet given the volume of demand for new aircraft, Boeing has to figure out a way to accelerate production rates in order to make the most of its multi-trillion dollar opportunity in the commercial aircraft business.

Boeing has been a stalwart in aviation for decades, and this isn't the first episode of rapid growth that the company has seen. But the huge jump in profitability at airlines across the country and around the world has put them in a much better position to make capital investments in newer airplane models, and Boeing has captured its fair share of business from those airline customers. With so much at stake, Boeing's biggest challenge is delivering those planes on time and without any manufacturing flaws, taking the components it relies on from United Technologies, General Electric, and other manufacturers in a timely and dependable way. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Boeing over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its report.

Stats on Boeing

Analyst EPS Estimate

$2.01

Change From Year-Ago EPS

20%

Revenue Estimate

$22.36 billion

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

2.5%

Earnings Beats in Past Four Quarters

4

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Can Boeing earnings keep climbing?
Investors have gotten more optimistic about Boeing earnings in recent months, raising their second-quarter estimates by almost 10% and raising full-year 2014 projections by more than a quarter per share. The stock hasn't gone anywhere, though, falling 1% since mid-April.

Boeing's first-quarter earnings report showed just how much promise the aerospace industry has right now. Earnings per share came in 13% stronger than investors had expected, with the company delivering 161 planes during the quarter. In particular, with Boeing delivering 18 of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft during the quarter, last year's concerns about the new model's reliability and safety seem to be fading into the background. Airlines have put in massive orders for the Dreamliner as well as for updated versions of its 737 MAX and its 777X aircraft as well, starting the clock on deliveries that in some cases won't even start until 2020. With a $440 billion backlog as of the end of the quarter, Boeing unquestionably needs to continue working on boosting its production rate, but it means guaranteed business not just for itself but for component makers General Electric and United Technologies as well.


Source: Boeing.

Still, Boeing faces plenty of competitive threats. Just last week, rival Airbus announced that it would upgrade its A330 long-range jet, making it 14% more fuel efficient. The A330 competes in the same general segment as Boeing's Dreamliner, and Airbus hopes that by taking its existing aircraft model rather than developing a brand-new one from scratch, it will be able to offer customers a less expensive alternative to the Dreamliner while still giving airlines the fuel-cost savings they want.

Boeing has taken that lesson to heart, though, turning its focus more toward reengineering existing aircraft models rather than starting from scratch. The 737 MAX and 777X are the latest examples of that trend, with Boeing planning to use technology developed in the creation of the Dreamliner to help improve performance. United Technologies, General Electric, and other components makers will also play a role in helping to push future Boeing models forward.

One controversial issue Boeing is dealing with is the pending reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. For Boeing, the bank has helped foreign customer finance aircraft purchases, adding to its top-line growth. But domestic airlines argue that the bank's loans offer support to foreign competitors, and they'd prefer to have the bank shut down or changed in order to stop putting them at a competitive disadvantage to the bank's borrowers.

In the Boeing earnings report, watch to see if the company can continue to push its production rates higher without running into snags. With Boeing having recently upgraded its views on 20-year industry revenue above the $5 trillion mark, investors are drooling at the prospect of Boeing getting its claws into all the cash flowing through the aerospace industry right now.

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