Boeing is 'ready to rumble'
The aerospace company wants to boost commercial jet production by 40%, which explains why shares are trading near a 3-year high.
By Ted Reed, TheStreet
Perhaps the most telling comment by Boeing (BA) CEO Jim McNerney during the company's earnings call Wednesday was his promise to "increase our commercial airplane output by more than 40% during the next three years."
With the world hungry for modern, fuel-efficient large jets, which are available from just two manufacturers, it is no wonder that Boeing is trading close to its three-year high --- and that many analysts see it going even higher.
At midday Friday, shares were up $1.43 to $79.98 as investors seemed to shrug off reports that Boeing is not a finalist for a contract to supply 126 fighter jets to the Indian Air Force. For the year, shares in Boeing, a Dow component, are up 20%. That includes a 10% increase since April 14.
Of course, both Boeing and Airbus are well-known for ramp-up and development snafus, but investors can nevertheless be excused for embracing the prospect of an increased supply of airplanes, even if that means diminution of Boeing's prized asset: a seven-year backlog.
On the earnings call, McNerney mentioned what he termed Boeing's tendency to "worship backlog."
Responding to an analyst's question about whether Boeing might re-evaluate production rates for the 777, given a four-year backlog for that aircraft, McNerney said: "You're asking the right question. I think we will take a balanced view of the build market share (versus) building a backlog for security. It'll be probably a little more bias toward taking share than backlog for security."
In a comment issued after the earnings call, RBC Capital Markets analyst Rob Stallard said Boeing is "getting ready to rumble."
"Boeing is near the start of what we believe promises to be a steady period of growth for its commercial aircraft division, with double digit EPS growth and improving cash flow on the horizon," Stallard wrote. "We think the biggest risk to this outlook is Boeing. If the company can execute and make sound decisions on new production development and production rates, then we think there is significant upside potential for the stock." Stallard has an outperform and a $90 price target.
Meanwhile, Gleacher & Co. analyst Peter Arment maintains a buy rating and a $100 price target. In a comment following the earnings call, he noted that in addition to increased 737 and 777 orders, long-awaited deliveries of the 787 and the 747-8 are slated to begin this year. "We believe Boeing is poised to break out of its current one-year trading range," he wrote. "We believe the cash flow and earnings ramp remain impressive for Boeing."
Arment's $100 price target is based on a 2012 earnings estimate of $6 and a multiple of 17.
Boeing is already working some of its folks 12 hour days 7 days a week for extended periods of time (months). Will they finally hire some more workers or keep burning out the ones they have?
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