Boeing Earnings Surge, Forecast Rises (BA, GD, NOC, LMT, RTN)

Aircraft maker Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) reported first quarter earnings this morning that handily beat expectations for EPS and revenues. EPS came in at $1.22 on revenue of $19.4 billion, compared with consensus estimates for EPS of $0.94 on revenue of $18.37.

The company’s revenues from commercial aircraft sales jumped 54% to $10.94 billion and sales of military aircraft rose 27% to $4.3 billion. It’s interesting to contrast Boeing’s military business with other military contractors like General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC), both of which also reported earnings today. Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and Raytheon Corp. (NYSE: RTN) are scheduled to report earnings tomorrow.

Boeing’s defense and space business posted an operating margin of 9% in the first quarter, about 10% lower than its operating margin in the company’s commercial aircraft business. But the margin growth was only 0.2% year-over-year in defense, compared with margin growth of 2.7% in the commercial business.

Boeing also lifted its full-year EPS forecast from $4.05-$4.25 to a new range of $4.15-$4.35.

General Dynamics, which makes tanks and combat vehicles, reported that sales in its combat systems group fell -2.3%. Northrop reported that sales in its aerospace group, which manufactures drones, fell -8% and profits fell -2.7%. Northrop’s electronics group posted a gain in profits even as sales fell.

The proposed cut of $490 billion in US defense spending over the next 10 years will certainly have a larger impact on General Dynamics and Northrop than it will on Boeing. Still today’s report from the US Census Bureau on durable goods orders is not too encouraging for Boeing either. Of a decline of $7.7 billion in new orders for aircraft and parts, some $7.1 billion of the drop came in non-defense orders (our coverage here).

The backlog of orders for non-defense aircraft is up 15.6% compared with March 2011 and the defense backlog is up 5.6%. But those backlogs are likely to shrink as new orders, especially for non-commercial aircraft, are filled.

Lockheed is expected to post EPS of $1.70 on revenue of $10.56 billion tomorrow. Raytheon, also scheduled to report earnings tomorrow, is slated to post EPS of $1.16 on revenue of $5.77 billion. For both the EPS estimate is lower than year-ago actuals, while the revenue estimates are higher.

Boeing’s shares are up 4.3% in the first half-hour of trading this morning at $76.36 in a 52-week range of $56.01-$80.65.

General Dynamics’ shares are down -1.3% at $69.12 in a 52-week range of $53.95-$75.93.

Northrop’s shares are up 2.3% at $64.18 in a 52-week range of $49.20-$70.61.
Shares of Lockheed are up 0.5% at $91.60 after posting a new 52-week high of $91.79, and shares of Raytheon are up 0.9% at $53.47 after another new 52-week high of $53.56.

Paul Ausick

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