What happened

Boeing (BA 1.34%) hosted a well-received investor day and backed it up with a couple of significant orders. This gave investors reason to believe the worst is behind the beleaguered aerospace giant.

The stock gained 25.5% in the month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. This was a step toward reversing years of underperformance by the plane maker.

So what

Boeing shareholders haven't had a lot to get excited about in recent years. The company struggled through the disastrous launch of its 737 MAX, which was once touted as having the potential to be the best-selling plane of all time. The MAX was grounded for 18 months after a pair of fatal accidents, and by the time it returned to the skies, the pandemic had crippled aviation and sent demand for new planes plummeting.

The pandemic has receded somewhat, and travel has rebounded, but Boeing shares continue to sputter. In early November, company management made their case as to why better days are ahead, projecting $10 billion in free cash flow and $100 billion in revenue by 2025.

Boeing also said it sees no need to do an equity raise and recommitted to its aggressive targets for commercial-airplane deliveries in the years to come.

Although this remains a long-term turnaround story, Boeing's confidence and the clarity of management's comments seemed to leave a strong impression on Wall Street. Bank of America analyst Ronald Epstein called it "one of the most frank Boeing conferences we have attended in years," while Morgan Stanley's Kristine Liwag said she left the event "incrementally more positive on the stock."

Boeing backed it up a few days later with a $1.7 billion order from Emirates, announced a new customer for the rejuvenated 737 MAX, and reported October deliveries that show the company is gradually returning to business as usual.

Now what

Boeing was up 25% for the month but is still down 12% year to date and is trading at half the price it was before the pandemic. The good news for investors is that it implies there's a lot of potential upside from here. However, investors need to be aware that the stock is "cheap" for a reason.

Boeing took on a lot of debt during the pandemic. If the cash flow materializes like the company hopes it will, it will go a long way toward erasing that debt. But given the uncertain global economic environment and a real risk of a recession that crimps airplane demand up ahead, those goals are far from certain.

For now, Boeing investors should remain seated with their seatbelts fastened. The company is on course to reach its destination, but it will be a long journey with a real risk of turbulence up ahead.