Boeing ( BA ) said Fourth Quarter Results That topped expectations, but the planemaker suspended its 2024 guidance as it continues to deal with the fallout from the crash involving the Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9, which exploded a door “plug” while in flight in early January.
For the quarter, Boeing Co. reported top-line revenue of $22.02 billion versus $21.07 billion, according to Bloomberg consensus estimates. Boeing's commercial sales revenue for Q4 was $10.48 billion versus expectations of $10.04 billion. From a profit standpoint, Boeing estimated adjusted loss per share (or “core” as Boeing calls it) of $0.47 versus a loss of $0.76.
Boeing had operating cash flow of $3.38 billion and a core operating margin of 0.4%, compared to a negative 3.2% last year.
But Boeing's withholding of forward guidance could worry investors.
“We often use this time of year to share or update our financial and operational objectives, and now is not the time,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said in a message to employees. “We focus on every next flight to support our customers, follow our regulator's guidance, and ensure the highest standards of safety and quality in everything we do. Ultimately, that's what drives our performance.”
For example, in 2023, Boeing had a free cash flow forecast of $3 billion to $5 billion and an operating cash flow estimate of $4.5 billion to $6.5 billion. Boeing declined to provide a 2024 update on those projections.
Wall Street was less concerned about the lack of guidance, as Boeing shares rose more than 6% in early trading.
“The lack of guidance here is not really a suspension,” Melius Research managing director Robert Spinkern said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “It's a postponement, if you will, because of the uncertainty.”
As for its production guidance, Boeing says it will limit 737 Max production to 38 planes per month until the FAA is satisfied with safety and quality. Last week the FAA limited production of the plane maker's Max Jet.
Boeing says it is producing five 787 Dreamliners per month. It plans to increase production by 10 per month. Production for the 777X wide-body aircraft will continue as planned.
Earlier this month, Boeing said it delivered 528 aircraft in 2023 and booked 1,314 net new orders in 2023, up from 480 deliveries in 2022 and 774 net new orders.
Across its business jet portfolio, Boeing delivered 396 of its 737 jets last year, on target for at least 375 planes, but missed its original target of 400 to 450 jets. Boeing delivered 73 of its 787 Dreamliners by 2023, up from its target of 70 to 80. Finally, Boeing said its order backlog is now 5,626, down from 5,324.
As for the 737 Max 9 jet at the center of the Alaska Airlines debacle, the jets are returning to service for Alaska and United Airlines after the FAA approved Boeing's inspection and maintenance plan. Boeing is still under scrutiny from regulators after the FAA halted plans for Boeing to ramp up production of the 737 Max 9. The FAA expanded its oversight of Boeing and its suppliers into the aircraft manufacturing process and its investigation. Compliance with production requirements.
A different jet in the Max family, the 737 Max 7, suffered another setback this week. Boeing withdrew a request to the FAA for a safety exemption for the plane last year after Boeing reported a problem with the plane's inlet de-icing system. Boeing says it will now “come up with an engineering solution that will be completed during the certification process.” The 737 MAX 7 is a smaller version of the MAX aircraft that has not yet been certified by the FAA.
The CEOs of United and Alaska Airlines, the biggest buyers of 737 Max 9 jets, They have expressed frustration Boeing's continued production problems with the aircraft.
“As we move forward, we will support our customers, work openly with our regulator and ensure we complete all steps to earn the trust of our stakeholders,” Boeing's Calhoun said in a statement.
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