History repeated itself yesterday. Big surprise.

Three months ago, I carped about the overabundance of articles pouring from the media's collective maw in response to Boeing's (NYSE: BA) third-quarter 2007 earnings report. Well surprise, surprise, but the same thing happened Wednesday. No sooner had Boeing reported its latest crop of big numbers (sales up 8%, free cash flow up 35%, and profits up 84% to $4.1 billion, since you ask) than another six dozen articles flowed forth from the Financial Times-es, APs, and Reuterses of the world.

If everyone else is saying one thing -- talking GAAP numbers, 787-start-up delays, and new plane orders -- then the only way to add value for Foolish investors is to look elsewhere.

Last time around, we accomplished that by looking past the income statement and examining Boeing's cash flows. After running the numbers, I concluded that Boeing looked significantly undervalued based on its free cash flow (in fact, it looks even cheaper now that Boeing has generated more in free cash flow than it thought it could). Today, we're going to look even farther afield and examine not just where Boeing is in valuation terms, but where it appears to be heading.

Boeing's bumper backlog
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been putting the entire defense industry through its paces, by reviewing trends in backlog at such militaristic worthies as United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC), and Textron (NYSE: TXT). Some companies, such as Textron, are looking as good as ever. Others, such as Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), seem poised to pause their breakneck growth. So where does Boeing fall along the spectrum?

After comparing Boeing's backlog position from last quarter against Wednesday's news, I'm pleased to report that things have changed very little in Q4. Here's how the numbers looked at year-end 2007, as compared with the closing figures for the two previous years:




Contractual backlog

$162.0 billion

$216.6 billion

$297.0 billion

Unobligated backlog

$40.2 billion

$33.7 billion

$30.2 billion

Total backlog

$202.2 billion

$250.3 billion

$327.2 billion

YTD revenues

$54.8 billion

$61.5 billion

$66.4 billion

Once again, we see that Boeing grew its sales north of 20% over the past two years. And again we see backlog up above 60% over the same period, with orders secured by firm contracts growing even faster, and "unobligated" orders continuing to shrink. So once again, I must say: Boeing's da bomb.

Read up on recent Boeing news in:

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.