Why Investors Like Boeing Earnings So Much

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Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) reported second-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Wednesday. The aerospace company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.55 on revenues of $22.74 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported an adjusted net loss of $0.44 per share on revenues of $24.76 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $2.30 and $23.02 billion in revenues.

The number that matters most to Boeing — and to its shareholders — is operating cash flow. Second-quarter cash flow totaled $4.95 billion, more than 50% higher than cash flow in the prior year quarter. For the year to date, cash flow topped $7 billion, compared with $4.47 billion in the first half of last year.

Operating cash flow guidance for the full year was raised by $1.5 billion to $12.25 billion, and capital spending was reduced by $300 million to $2 billion. Boeing still expects to deliver 760 to 765 new commercial aircraft this year and also now believes its operating margin will be greater than 10%.

The company raised it GAAP and adjusted EPS guidance for the full year. Boeing now expects GAAP EPS to rise from a prior range of $10.35 to $10.55 to a new range of $11.10 to $11.30. Adjusted EPS is now forecast to rise from a prior range of $9.20 to $9.40 to a new range of $9.80 to $10.00.

Boeing also raised its operating margin guidance in its defense and space business from approximately 11.5% to greater than 11.5%. The big change there was an increase of 1% in the global services and support business’s margin to more than 13.5% for the full year.

Analysts are looking for third-quarter EPS of $2.46 and revenues of $23.75 billion. For the full year, current estimates call for EPS of $9.39 and revenues of $91.99 billion.

Commercial jet deliveries slipped 8% compared with the second quarter of 2016, and revenues from commercial jets dipped 10%. Operating earnings totaled $1.57 billion, and operating margin rose by more than 15 points to 10%. Boeing delivered 183 commercial planes in the second quarter and took new orders and commitments for 571 at the Paris Air Show, raising the value of its backlog to $424 billion (actual contract price, not list price).

Defense division revenue dropped 3%, from $2.98 billion to $2.9 billion. The division’s global services and support revenues also fell 3% to $2.31 billion.

Boeing’s deferred production costs on the 787 program fell to $226.46 billion, down by $531 million sequentially. Tooling and other nonrecurring costs for the program also declined, from $3.58 billion at the end of the third quarter to $3.39 billion.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg said:

In the second quarter, we added to our large and diverse order backlog with key wins in commercial airplanes, defense, space and services, while achieving important milestones such as delivering the first 737 MAX airplane, flying the second production-ready T-X trainer aircraft, and conducting a successful Ground-based Midcourse Defense intercept test.

As we look to the second half of the year, our teams are focused on accelerating productivity, quality and safety improvements across the company, while completing key development efforts and delivering better capabilities and economics to our customers.

During the quarter, the company repurchased 13.6 million shares for $2.5 billion and paid $900 million in dividends. Boeing said it had $9 billion remaining in its current buyback program.

The stock traded up about 3.5% in Wednesday’s premarket to $219.95, above the 52-week range of $126.31 to $214.00. The high was posted yesterday. The consensus price target as of last night was $205.82.