Aerospace & Defense

Boeing's 9-Month Deliveries Plunge by Almost Half

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) reported Tuesday morning that third-quarter deliveries of its 737 family of jets totaled a mere five, down from 24 in the second quarter and 89 in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter of last year, Boeing delivered 173 737 jets to commercial customers.

The company’s 737 Max single-aisle planes were grounded in mid-March following the crash of an Ethiopian Air plane that killed 157 passengers and crew. The crash was the second for the 737 Max in less than six months. The first, in October of last year, killed 189 when the Lion Air jet crashed into the sea offshore of Indonesia.

The 737 Max is Boeing’s best-selling aircraft by a wide margin. The company delivered 580 copies of the plane last year, compared with just 118 so far this year of both 737 models still in the company’s order book: the older NG and the grounded Max.

Boeing delivered 190 commercial planes in the third quarter of last year, compared with deliveries of just 63 planes in the 2019 third quarter. For the first nine months of the year, Boeing delivered 568 commercial jets last year, compared with deliveries of 302 so far in 2019, a drop of 47%.

The company delivered 35 Dreamliners in the third quarter, down from 42 in the second quarter and 36 in the first quarter. For the year to date, Boeing has delivered 302 of the dual-aisle 787 Dreamliners, nearly three times as many as in the first three quarters of last year, when the company shipped 106 of the planes.

The company also delivered 12 dual-aisle 777s in the quarter, flat with second-quarter deliveries and up from 10 in the first quarter. Boeing delivered two jumbo 747s, the same number as in each of the prior two quarters, and 12 767s, up from 10 delivered in the second quarter. Boeing has delivered 28 767s so far this year, already more than the 27 it delivered in all of last year. The 767 is the base aircraft for the KC-46A tankers Boeing is manufacturing for the U.S. Air Force.

The company’s defense division delivered nine new tankers to the U.S. Air Force in the quarter, up from five in the first quarter. The Air Force discovered debris rattling around in some of the first tankers delivered and temporarily slowed deliveries to around 1.5 planes per month in the second quarter.

Boeing has got to get the 737 Max back in the air. Earlier this month a Boeing spokesperson told the Wichita Business Journal that the company has targeted getting the plane’s grounding order lifted in the fourth quarter. Wichita is home to Spirit AeroSystems Inc. (NYSE: SPR), the company that builds about 70% of the 737 Max’s structure and is the city’s largest employer. Spirit has been building 52 fuselages a month, the same rate as before the grounding, while Boeing has cut its production of finished planes to 42 a month. Those planes are going into storage.

Boeing stock traded down about 0.5% in the early afternoon Tuesday, at $374.81 in a 52-week range of $292.47 to $446.01. The stock’s 12-month consensus price target is $412.33.