Why Boeing Earnings Did Not Excite Investors

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Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) reported first-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Wednesday. The aerospace company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.01 on revenues of $20.98 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported earnings per share (EPS) of $1.74 on revenues of $22.63 billion. First-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $1.95 and $21.35 billion in revenues.

On a GAAP basis, Boeing posted EPS of $2.34, which includes $315 million of unallocated pension and retirement benefits income.

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 $10.25 to $10.45 to a new range of $10.35 to $10.55. Adjusted EPS is now forecast to rise from between $9.10 and $9.30 to a new range of $9.20 to $9.40. Boeing still expects to deliver 760 to 765 new commercial aircraft this year and maintained its estimate of $10.75 billion in operating cash flow.

Commercial jet deliveries slipped 4% compared with the first quarter of 2016, and revenues from commercial jets dipped 1%. Operating earnings rose 18% and operating margin rose 1.3 points to 8.5%. Boeing delivered 189 commercial planes in the first quarter and took new orders for 198, raising its backlog to more than 5,700 airplanes valued at $417 billion (actual sales price, not list price).

Defense division revenue dropped 18%, from $7.96 billion to $6.53 billion. The division’s global services and support revenues fell 9% to $2.32 billion, an inauspicious signal for reaching a services and support revenue goal of $50 billion in 10 years.

Boeing does not break out its commercial division’s services numbers, but one analyst estimates the total at $7 billion to $8 billion annually, and a grand total of around $17 billion for a full year for the defense division.

Boeing’s deferred production costs on the 787 program fell to $226.99 billion, down by $316 million sequentially. Tooling and other nonrecurring costs for the program also declined, from $3.63 billion at the end of the third quarter to $3.58 billion.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg said:

With a sharp focus on performance and productivity, our team delivered another quarter of solid financial results, including year-over-year earnings growth and strong operating cash flow. In turn, we continued to position Boeing for growth with investments in new products and services, innovation, and our people, while again demonstrating our commitment to return significant cash to our shareholders. … We remain on track to achieve our full-year revenue, earnings and cash flow targets as our teams deliver on our large and diverse order backlog. As we do so, we’re focused on accelerating productivity, quality and safety improvements, strengthening execution on development programs, and capturing new business opportunities.

During the quarter, the company repurchased 14.9 million shares for $2.5 billion and paid $868 million in dividends. Boeing said it had $11.5 billion remaining under its current buyback program.

The stock traded down about 1.6% Wednesday’s morning to $180.47, in a 52-week range of $122.35 to $185.71. The consensus price target before the report was $181.90.