Good thing Boeing has more than the Dreamliner
The rest of the company's business is humming along. The aerospace giant has a better-than-expected quarter and is the No. 1 planemaker.
The Dreamliner has suffered a series of well-publicized problems, but, given Boeing's enormous size, it's actually a fairly small part of the business. As such, Boeing hasn't taken a serious financial hit. But it's working quickly to fix the issue.
"Our first order of business for 2013 is to resolve the battery issue on the 787 and return
the airplanes safely to service with our customers," said CEO James McNerney in the earnings press release.
That may be an understatement. Boeing has gambled billions on the 787, whose cutting-edge design makes it far more fuel efficient than conventional aircraft.
The company has about 800 orders on its books for the Dreamliner. Regulators have ordered the jetliner, which lists for about $207 million, grounded until the cause of a spate of battery fires can be determined. Though Dreamliner deliveries have been halted, Boeing is continuing to produce its aircraft. The aircraft was released nearly four years behind schedule because of technical snafus.
Boeing usurped the title of world's largest planemaker from Airbus for the first time since 2002, according to Bloomberg News. It ended 2012 with a record backlog of $390 billion and net orders of $35 billion in the fourth quarter. Last year, Boeing delivered more than 600 commercial aircraft.
The 737 program broke the company's single-year record for both orders and deliveries in 2012. In addition, Boeing began major assembly on the 787-9 and executed five production rate increases. The company's commercial airplanes business booked 394 net orders during the quarter.
Boeing also is the second-largest defense contractor and a major contractor for NASA. That business did not do well in the fourth quarter, posting declines in operational earnings across the board. Boeing's military aircraft division was a bright spot, posting a 5% increase in revenue thanks to the KC-46 Tanker and P-8A program. Among the wins for the business in the quarter was the U.S Air Force's G C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program. It also won a contract to upgrade 68 F-15s for an international customer.
Profit at the company slumped 30% to $978 million, or $1.28, in the fourth quarter. Revenue rose to $22.38 billion. Excluding one-time items, profit was $1.28. Analysts expected Boeing to earn $1.19 in profit on revenue of $22.36 billion. The company gave earnings guidance that was in line with Wall Street's expectations. For a closer look at the numbers, click here.
--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stock. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr
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