For the first six weeks of 2016, shares in Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) have lost nearly 25% and are the worst performer among the 30 stocks that comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Avenue. And while the storm that has smashed the stock price may not have been perfect, it did deal the company a series of staggering blows.
The first week of January was the worst for the equities markets in years, and Boeing took its share of shots despite reporting a record number of 2015 deliveries and news that the new 737 MAX was as much as six months ahead of schedule for deliveries to customers beginning in the third quarter of next year. Boeing’s stock fell 10% in the first week of January and it was the second-worst performer among the Dow 30.
The stock trickled down another 5% until Boeing announced fourth-quarter results on January 27 and dropped another 8%. The results weren’t bad but the forecast was. The company already had announced a production rate cut in the 747 program to 0.5 planes per month. When it announced results, Boeing revealed a rate cut in its 777 program to seven a month, which would have a sharp impact on both revenues and cash flows.
The cut to 777 production has been expected for nearly two years. When the company finally pulled the trigger, investors reacted as if it was a surprise, and that was Boeing’s fault. The company could have announced the rate cut to the 777 at the same time (a week earlier) that it announced the 747 cut and $885 million pretax charge.
The final straw came in a report last week that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a whistleblower complaint about the company’s use of the program accounting method. While the method itself is GAAP-compliant, the complaint is focused on how Boeing estimated sales from the 787 program. Shares plummeted 10% on the report, upon which neither Boeing nor the SEC would comment.
On December 31, 2015, Boeing shares closed at $144.59. On Friday, the shares closed at $108.13, up about 0.2% for the day but down nearly 12% for the week, after posting a new 52-week low of $102.10 on Thursday. The stock’s 52-week high is $158.83.