Stocks are trying to rebound from Monday's drop, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.32%) trading 77 points higher, or 0.50%, by midafternoon. The Commerce Department reported that U.S. factory orders declined by 1.5% in December from the previous month. While the drop is not good news, the result was better than economists' expectations of a 2% decline. With the major indices in the green, here are some top companies making headlines today.
Dow component Boeing (BA 1.90%) is focusing on ramping up aircraft production, announcing this week it would begin manufacturing the first next-generation 737 at the increased rate of 42 airplanes per month. If you're keeping track, and Boeing investors should be, that's a 33% increase from 2010 and its highest rate ever.
"This rate increase once again reflects our commitment to put the world's best-selling airplane into the hands of our customers as quickly as possible," Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager, 737 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a press release. "Efficiency improvements in the factory, many of them developed by our employees, are a big part of why we are able to successfully increase the number of airplanes we build."
Going forward, production of the next-generation 737 will increase again from 42 airplanes per month to 47 in 2017. This will be a recurring theme for Boeing investors as the company aims to cash in on a massive backlog of orders valued at $441 billion. Commercial sales growth will be driven by higher production rates, and it will be important for Boeing to execute on improving production rates to offset potential weakness in its defense business amid reduced Pentagon spending.
Outside the Dow, Toyota (TM 0.12%) today reported its fiscal third quarter with more than 600 billion yen (about $5.9 billion) in operating profit -- almost five times the amount reached a year ago. For the first nine months of its fiscal 2014, Toyota's net revenue increased 17.8% and its operating income increased a whopping 126.8%. The bottom line increase was aided by a weaker yen.
"In addition to the positive impact of the weaker yen, our operating income increased due to marketing efforts such as increased vehicle sales and cost reduction activities through collaboration with our suppliers." Toyota Managing Officer Takuo Sasaki said in a press release.
The world's top-selling automaker raised its operating profit forecast for the year to a record 2.4 trillion yen, or $23.7 billion, and said it expects U.S. sales to reach 16 million in 2014. While the company continues to surge and produce incredible profits, it still has room to improve here in the U.S. where its margins are only 5.2%, compared to its 9.1% in its global business.