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Embattled Boeing Conserves Cash, Suspends Dividend

By Rich Smith - Mar 21, 2020 at 8:09PM

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The move could preserve $4.6 billion annually to maintain operations.

Boeing (BA 2.79%), under pressure from coronavirus and with a stock down 72% in the past month, sent out an S.O.S. this week.

On Tuesday, the company asked Congress to fund a $60 billion bailout package. Then on Friday it dropped the bombshell. With no bailout having yet been approved, it will "suspend its dividend until further notice" and also "extend its pause of any share repurchasing until further notice."

Boeing 737 on the tarmac

Image source: Getty Images.

Both measures are intended to conserve cash that Boeing will need to see it through this crisis.

Boeing said it would use any bailout funds to maintain operations and continue paying its suppliers to ensure that when the recession ends, there will still be a supply chain in existence to enable it to keep building airplanes.

"The long-term outlook for the industry is still strong," said Boeing in a statement, "but until global passenger traffic resumes to normal levels, these measures are needed to manage the pressure on the aviation sector and the economy as a whole."  

When last we heard from Boeing in its Jan. 29 earnings report, the company had more than $10 billion in cash on hand -- but the extended downturn in air traffic appears to have drained much of that liquidity dry. Already, Boeing has been forced to draw down $13.8 billion in loans in an effort "to sustain operations, support its workforce and customers, and maintain supply chain continuity through the COVID-19 crisis and for the long term."

Suspending the dividend and keeping that cash in house could give Boeing potentially $4.6 billion more to play with.  

Boeing stock closed trading at $95.01 a share on Friday, down 2.8% for the day and 44% for the week.  

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