Boeing posts wider loss but reaffirms 787 schedule

Boeing Co posted a larger-than-expected quarterly loss on costs related to its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner program, but the world’s second-largest planemaker reaffirmed that the aircraft is on track to fly this year.
The loss, combined with a lowered 2009 earnings outlook, sent shares down in early trading, although most of the details in the earnings statement had been previously publicized.
“The surprise was they reiterated the (787) schedule,” said Alex Hamilton, senior managing director at Jesup & Lamont.
“I always look at these as opportunities to kind of reset the bar,” Hamilton said. “I think there’s a lot of scepticism growing on the street about their delivery schedule.”
Chicago-based Boeing and rival Airbus have been hit hard this year as carriers and cargo operators grapple with the global recession and credit crisis.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s defense unit struggles with sweeping government budget cuts.
Boeing said its revenue was $16.7 billion, up 9 % from the year-ago period, which was impacted by a labor strike, but still far short of $17.16 billion that analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“There is no doubt that both our commercial and defense businesses continue to face challenging times right now,” Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney said on a conference call with analysts and reporters.
Shares of Boeing, a Dow component, were down 1.18 % at $51.28 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Dreamliner on track
Boeing has grappled this year with delays to the Dreamliner program. The Dreamliner is Boeing’s upcoming aircraft that features revolutionary composite materials and construction methods. The plane is two years behind schedule, and some industry watchers say it could be delayed further.
Boeing said on Wednesday the plane would fly this year with first delivery set for the fourth quarter of 2010. The company has a record of 840 firm orders for Dreamliners from 55 customers.
The company previously said it would reclassify to research and development costs incurred through July for the first three 787 flight-test planes. Those costs amounted to $2.46 per share. Boeing reported an additional cost of 14 cents per share related to spending on those planes for August and September.
Earlier this month, Boeing said it would delay the first flight and delivery of its 747-8 Freighter and take a 99-cent-per-share third-quarter charge because of high production costs and tough market conditions.
To reflect the 787 and 747 impacts, earnings guidance for 2009 has been changed to a range of $1.35 to $1.55 per share, from $4.70 to $5.00 previously.
“The 787 cost reclassification and the 747 charge for increased costs and difficult market conditions clearly overshadowed what continues to be otherwise solid performance across our commercial production programs and defense business,” McNerney said in a statement.
“We look forward to getting the 787 and 747-8 in the air soon and moving forward with flight test and certification for these two important programs,” he said.
The numbers
Boeing said its net loss was $1.6 billion, or $2.23 per share, compared with a profit of $695 million, or 96 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding a loss from discontinuing operations, Boeing’s quarterly loss was $2.22 per share, compared with analysts’ estimates for a loss of $2.12 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes posted a loss from operations of $2.8 billion. A year ago the unit posted earnings of $394 million. Revenue for the division increased 13 % to $7.9 billion on higher deliveries.
The division booked 96 gross orders during the quarter, while 17 orders were canceled. Its backlog was $254 billion.
Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems’ earnings from operations were $885 million.
Third-quarter revenue was up 3 % to $8.7 billion on increased military aircraft deliveries.

Pic: 787 Dreamliner