Boeing profits better than expected

First-quarter profits at US aerospace giant Boeing topped Wall Street forecasts as they reached 1.2 billion dollars, up 38% from the previous year, thanks to strong aircraft sales.


Boeing said Wednesday its first-quarter profit rose 38 percent from a year ago to 1.2 billion dollars amid strong results from commercial airplanes and defense, despite a soft economy.

The earnings amounted to 1.62 dollars a share, well ahead of the average Wall Street estimate of 1.35 dollars.

Boeing's quarterly revenue rose four percent to 16.0 billion dollars.

The US aerospace giant, which has been plagued by delays of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, reaffirmed its 2008 earnings guidance at between 5.70 and 5.85 dollars per share.

Al Goldman, analyst at Wachovia Securities, called the results from Boeing "much better than expected."

"We're off to a good start in what we expect to be another strong year of financial performance for Boeing," said company chairman, president and chief executive Jim McNerney.

"We are methodically working through our challenges, including the start-up of the 787, and our people remain focused on satisfying our customers and leveraging growth and productivity into better bottom-line and top-line performance for our company."

Boeing's order backlog at quarter-end reached a record 346 billion dollars, up 32 percent in the last year, with growth in the quarter driven by commercial airplane and the V-22, a tiltrotor aircraft for the armed forces that takes off and lands like a helicopter and then flies like a conventional plane.

The company has said its finances would see little impact from the delays in the 787 program.

Boeing revised the first flight and schedule plans for its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner on April 9. The company now expects the first flight to occur in the fourth quarter of this year, rather than the end of the second quarter, and is planning its first delivery for the third quarter of 2009.

Boeing's Commercial Airplanes division produced first-quarter revenues of 8.2 billion dollars on an eight percent increase in airplane deliveries. Operating earnings for the unit grew 39 percent to 983 million dollars.

During the quarter, the company delivered its 1,400th 747 airplane and its 700th 777 airplane.

The company reiterated that progress on the new 787 Dreamliner "continues on the revised schedule announced earlier this month" and that the company "continues to address slower-than-expected completion of work that traveled from supplier facilities into Boeing's final assembly line and unanticipated rework."

Boeing's other main division, Integrated Defense Systems, delivered a 10 percent increase in operating profits to 860 million dollars as revenues grew two percent to 7.6 billion.

The company made no comment on the massive contract for refueling tankers lost earlier this year to a joint venture of Northrop Grumman and European-based EADS, parent of Boeing rival Airbus. Boeing is contesting the award.

Boeing shares rose 3.7 percent to 81.50 in late morning trade.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning