The 787 "Dreamliner" program continues to serve as more of a nightmare for Boeing (BA -1.12%).
Company CFO Greg Smith still thinks Boeing will begin breaking even on incremental 787 sales later this year. But at last report, Boeing put accumulated losses on the 787 program as a whole at nearly $27 billion. Working that number back down, and emerging with a profit at the end, requires that Boeing sell at least 1,300 planes, so as to spread development costs across a vast number of units.
So, here's some good news for Boeing investors at last: 787s are starting to sell.
Updating the numbers at Boeing
When last we checked in on Boeing's order book, the Seattle plane maker had booked orders for some 139 aircraft, suffered 25 cancellations, and thus had 114 "net" new orders for the year. One week later, here's how the numbers look:
- 80 gross orders for single-aisle 737s
- 44 new 787 Dreamliners
- 25 units of the 777
- three 747 jumbo jets
- one single 767
Add it all up, and Boeing's "gross" plane orders stand at 153 jets through the first week of May. No new cancellations have been reported, so that makes the number of net new orders 128 -- up 14 from last week.
And what new planes did Boeing sell over the past week, you ask? Well, the company says it took in five orders for new 777 jetliners from an "unidentified customer(s)." (That's good news. 777s are one of Boeing's most profitable airplanes.)
Even more important for a company that's trying to scale up 787 production, though, are the new 787 orders Boeing booked -- nine of them. Specifically, Boeing noted that Air Tahiti Nui is buying two 787s, a "business jet / VIP" customer is buying one more, and "unidentified customer(s)" have signed up for an even half dozen.
Boeing didn't go into specifics on the exact models of planes sold. But a midsize 787-9, for example, lists for $257 million at Boeing, suggesting the total value of the past week's 787 sales could exceed $2.3 billion. Add five 777-9Xes (for example -- the 777-9X is Boeing's biggest version of the new "triple-seven"), and the week's total take could exceed $4.2 billion.
The upshot for investors
According to the latest S&P Capital IQ data, Boeing's Commercial Airplanes business sells nearly $60 billion in airplanes annually -- about $1.15 billion a week. This past week, however, the company may have sold nearly four times that much, and made real progress toward its goal of 1,300 Dreamliners sold.
With 1,104 orders on its books through the end of April (269 delivered, 835 outstanding), Boeing's goal finally looks within reach. Here's hoping the promised profits will follow.