Boeing (NYSE:BA) is going gangbusters. (Just not as fast as it wants you to think -- as you'll see in a minute.)
Hot on the heels of October's record-setting sale of $2.2 billion worth of 787 Dreamliners to El Al Israel Airlines, and immediately following an even bigger deal to sell as many as 52 airplanes (777s and 737s this time -- and worth $6 billion) to Korean Air, Boeing came out this week with yet another announcement of a plane-selling bonanza.
The bonanza from Bombay
Specifically, India's Jet Airways has just confirmed an order for 75 new Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes. According to Boeing, this sale constitutes "the largest order" that India's self-proclaimed "premier international airline" has ever placed with a manufacturer. At list prices, an investor could infer that the order will mean as much as $8.25 billion in additional revenue for Boeing. And according to data from S&P Capital IQ, that's nearly 14% of what Boeing's Commercial Airlines business sells in a year.
That said, this order may not be all that meets the eye.
Reading the fine print
For one thing, the big new order isn't as big as it seems; nor as new, either. Size-wise, Boeing noted that two-thirds of Jet's order is actually made up of "options and purchase rights" on 50 planes -- options that may or may not be exercised. Only the remaining one-third, or 25 planes, are firm orders.
These orders are not necessarily "new" news. Boeing noted that Jet's order for these 25 planes has already been "previously attributed to an unidentified customer." As such, it's presumably buried somewhere in Boeing's order book, and already incorporated into the gross and net order counts shown on Boeing's order book page.
At some future point, Boeing will have to do a bit of housekeeping. To account for the Jet deal, we'll see 25 737s (of the MAX 8 variety) added to Boeing's order book, offset by a corresponding 25 cancellations of 737s (the NGs, although the order book won't spell that out for you).
What's really new here?
This is all a long-winded way of saying that Monday's announcement doesn't seem to add anything to the size of Boeing's book -- not yet, at least. In contrast, there is at least some new news on the orders front.
It arrived on Thursday, when Boeing issued its regular weekly update on orders booked during the past week. Thirty-five bona fide new orders were added: the 32 Korean Air orders we've been looking for since last week, and also, three new 737s ordered by "unidentified customer(s)."
Thus, as of mid-November, Boeing's order book now looks like this:
- 414 single-aisle 737s
- 79 Dreamliner 787s
- 56 widebody 777s
- 48 Boeing 767s
- four 747s
In total, that's 601 gross plane orders for Boeing. Subtract 77 cancellations, and Boeing's net order tally for the year is now 524 planes.
How will the complicated math of the Jet Airways not-really-news announcement affect this tally? And will Boeing be able to maintain its momentum, and book its fifth straight week of growing its order book?
Tune in next week to find out.
Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. You can find him on Motley Fool CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 299 out of more than 75,000 rated members.
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