How Boeing Crushed Earnings Estimates, Lifted Guidance

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Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) reported first-quarter 2018 results before markets opened Wednesday. The aerospace company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $3.64 on revenues of $23.38 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $2.17 per share on revenues of $21.96 billion. First-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $2.58 and $22.24 billion in revenues.

The number that matters most to Boeing — and to its shareholders — is operating cash flow, and first-quarter cash flow totaled $3.14 billion, up 49% compared to the prior year’s quarter. Operating cash flow totaled $13.34 billion in 2017 and had been forecast at around $15 billion for 2018. Boeing raised that estimate this morning to a range of $15.0 billion to $15.5 billion.

Boeing also raised adjusted EPS guidance from a prior range of $13.80 to $14.00 to a new range of $14.30 to $14.50. The company said the increase was due to performance.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg said:

Across Boeing, our teams performed at a high level in the quarter, driving revenue and earnings growth at all three business units, increasing profitability and operating cash flow, and delivering more value to our customers. Customers continue to recognize the value of our products and services, with strong orders booked in the quarter for defense, services and commercial offerings, including 221 net commercial aircraft orders.

The company had previously forecast 2018 deliveries of new commercial jets at 810 to 815, far above 2017’s record level of 763 deliveries. Boeing raised its forecast for operating margin from more than 11% to about 11.5% for its commercial plane sales. The company delivered 184 commercial jets in the first quarter, of which 132 were 737s and 34 were 787s.

Analysts are looking for second-quarter EPS of $3.44 and revenues of $23.77 billion. For the full year, current estimates call for EPS of $14.11 and revenues of $97.27 billion.

In its commercial jet division, Boeing’s revenues rose 5% to $13.65 billion, and operating earnings rose a whopping 73% to $1.51 billion. Defense division revenue rose 13%, from $5.11 billion to $5.76 billion, and operating earnings rose 18%. The global services and support division’s revenues rose 8% to $3.94 billion, and operating earnings rose 3% to $644 million.

Boeing’s deferred production costs on the 787 program fell to $24.69 billion, down by $668 million sequentially. Tooling and other non-recurring costs for the program also declined, from $3.17 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 to $3.04 billion.

The company’s backlog of commercial jets now stands more than 5,800 airplanes valued at $415 billion at contract (not list) prices. The value of the backlog has dropped by $73 billion sequentially. Total backlog rose from $475 billion to $486 billion in the quarter.

The company made no mention in its press release of any potential impact from tariffs or from recent engine problems on both some 737 and 787 aircraft. The subjects are sure to come up in the conference call later this morning.

The stock traded down up about 2.6% in Wednesday’s premarket, at $337.50 in a 52-week range of $175.47 to $371.60. The consensus price target as of last night was $387.29.

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