Shares of Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), once one of the great industrial companies of the world, remain down 39% so far in 2020, against the S&P 500 which is up 10%. No one should expect a recovery.
Boeing has received some good news. Its crash-prone 737 Max will return to the skies over the United States and Europe. But, the airline industry has been scorched by a drop in passenger traffic due to COVID-19. Even with a vaccine, many experts believe normal passenger traffic will not return for years. In the meantime, carriers, some of which are bankrupt and other teetering in that direction, will not need new planes at any time in the foreseeable future. Boeing’s customers are as badly crippled as it is, if not worse.
Boeing’s third-quarter results were ugly. Revenue dropped 29% to $14.1 billion. Boeing lost $401 million compared to a profit of $1.3 billion in the year-earlier period. Negative operating cash flow was $4.8 billion compared with a negative cash flow of $2.4 billion in the same period a year ago.
The revenue picture was worse for Boeing’s commercial aircraft business, down 56% to $3.6 billion. At least its Defense, Space & Security operations did much better. Revenue was off only 2% to $6.8 billion. Boeing should consider spinning this business out to give investors something of substance to hold onto.
President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun commented as the results were released: “The global pandemic continued to add pressure to our business this quarter, and we’re aligning to this new reality by closely managing our liquidity and transforming our enterprise to be sharper, more resilient and more sustainable for the long term.”
The problem is that the pandemic’s effects will go on for years.