Boeing seen posting profit with all eyes on commercial programs


Analysts expect Boeing Co to report a narrowed quarterly profit but Wall Street will be looking for executive comments on its high-profile commercial airplane programs.

The world’s largest aerospace and defense company is expected to post a second-quarter profit of 97 cents a share, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. A year earlier, Boeing reported a profit of $1.06 a share.

Boeing, which splits its business between commercial airplanes and defense products, competes directly with EADS unit Airbus, Reuters reports.

Boeing shares, however, mainly track commercial orders and deliveries, which are recovering from an economic downturn that saw airlines curb orders in recent years. Shares of Boeing, a Dow Jones industrial average component, are up more than 7 percent this year.

One of Boeing’s highest-profile commercial airplane projects, the 787 Dreamliner, is set for its first delivery to a customer in the current quarter.

The Dreamliner is three years behind schedule due to snags in the supply chain. Boeing now faces the task of ramping up the 787 production rate to 10 planes a month by 2013. Market watchers are eager to hear insights from Boeing on whether that goal is still attainable.
“It does not appear that Boeing will be officially dropping its target of full-rate production of 10 per month on the 787 by late 2013, but we think this target is looking increasingly unlikely to be achieved,” Robert Stallard, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a research note.

Last week, Boeing announced plans to put a new, more fuel-efficient engine in its best-selling 737 narrow-body plane. The company debated for more than a year whether to re-engine or redesign the plane. A redesigned 737 would have taken longer to bring to market, but could have provided more fuel savings.

The plane maker had intended to take more time to decide, but its hand was forced by AMR Corp’s American Airlines, a loyal Boeing customer, which was threatening to give an entire order to Airbus for the competing A320neo. In the end, AMR said it would buy 200 737s and 260 A320s.