Aerospace & Defense

Boeing Earnings Beat Estimates, but Outlook Could Raise Questions

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 results before markets opened Wednesday. For the quarter, the aerospace company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.47 on revenues of $23.29 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported $1.60 in EPS on revenues of $23.57 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $2.35 and revenues of $23.19 billion.

For the full year, Boeing reported EPS of $7.24 and revenues of $94.57 billion, compared with 2015 EPS of $7.72 and revenues of $96.11 billion.

The company guided 2017 adjusted EPS at $9.10 to $9.30 and GAAP EPS at $10.25 to $10.45. Boeing expects full-year revenues in the range of $90.5 billion to $92.5 billion and operating cash flow of about $10.75 billion. Analysts have forecast first-quarter 2017 EPS at $2.17 and revenues at $22.11 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $9.31 and revenues of $93.09 billion.

Commercial jet deliveries are forecast at 760 to 765, up about 2% compared with 748 deliveries in 2016 and back to the delivery level of 2015. Commercial revenues are forecast at $62.5 billion to $63.5 billion for 2017, compared with $65.07 billion in 2016.

The forecast for higher deliveries and lower revenues indicates that pricing may challenged, both for existing orders and for new orders coming in.

Defense division revenue is expected to range between $28 billion and $29 billion, and operating margin is forecast at about 11.5%, up from 10.2% in 2016 and in line with fourth-quarter operating margin of 11.8%.

Boeing’s deferred production costs on the 787 program fell to $27.31 billion, down by $210 million sequentially. Tooling and other non-recurring costs for the program also declined, from $3.71 billion at the end of the third quarter to $3.63 billion.

Boeing delivered a total of 185 commercial jets in the fourth quarter of 2016, up by 2% compared with 182 deliveries in the same period last year. This year’s total of 748 commercial jet deliveries is down 2% from last year’s total of 762.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg said:

We led the industry in commercial airplane deliveries for the fifth consecutive year, achieved healthy sales in our defense, space and services segments, and produced record operating cash flow, which fueled investment in innovation and our people and generated significant returns to shareholders.

Looking forward, our team is intent on accelerating productivity and program execution to deliver increasing cash and profitability from our large and diverse order backlog of nearly $500 billion, standing up our new integrated services business, and capturing an even greater share of the growing global aerospace market to deliver superior value to our customers, shareholders and employees.

During the quarter, the company repurchased 3.7 million shares for $500 million and paid $672 million in dividends. For the full year, Boeing repurchased 55.1 million shares for $7 billion and paid $2.8 billion in dividends. In December Boeing raised its dividend payment by 30% and topped up its $14 billion buyback program. As of Tuesday’s close, the company’s dividend yield is 3.6%.

The stock traded up about 0.8% in Wednesday’s premarket, at $161.81 in a 52-week range of $102.10 to $160.93. The consensus price target as of last night was $161.70.

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