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Boeing to Forgo Government Bailout After Raising Cash

By Lou Whiteman – Updated May 1, 2020 at 8:24AM

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A $25 billion bond sale provides enough of a liquidity cushion for now.

Boeing (BA 2.20%) said late Thursday that it would not seek a government bailout after it was able to raise $25 billion by selling bonds earlier in the day.

The aerospace giant has been under pressure due to an expected falloff in new plane sales as airlines react to a drop in travel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Boeing burned through $4.7 billion in the first quarter and has eliminated its dividend, and grew its total debt by 42% in the first quarter compared to year's end.

But despite its troubles, the company's planned bond offering received more interest than expected. The debt is spread across seven tranches with maturities ranging from three to 40 years, giving the company ample financial flexibility to weather the downturn.

A Boeing 737 on a tow.

Image source: Boeing.

In a statement announcing the bond offering, Boeing said that "as a result of the response, and pending the closure of this transaction expected Monday, May 4, we do not plan to seek additional funding through the capital markets or the U.S. government options at this time."

Boeing officials had lobbied for an aerospace component to be included in the CARES Act, but the company's decision not to participate is not a total surprise. CEO David Calhoun in March balked at the possibility of onerous terms for government support, including potential warrants or an equity stake in exchange for funding, insisting Boeing had other options available to it to raise cash.

The bond offering shows Calhoun was correct in his assessment, but it is unclear how well it would have been received without the perceived government backstop. In its statement, Boeing admitted the robust demand for the bonds in part reflects the company's perceived long-term strengths, but also was "in part a result of the confidence in the market created by the CARES Act and federal support programs that have been put in place."

Boeing might have the funding to remain solvent, but it faces a tough road ahead. The company is still working to get its 737 Max recertified after being grounded for more than a year, and faces waning demand for its larger wide-body aircraft. Boeing estimates it will take at least two years for commercial airline traffic to return, and could take significantly longer for a new commercial airplane up cycle to take root.

Lou Whiteman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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