Boeing Posts $1.56 Billion Loss


The Wall Street Journal

By JOAN E. SOLSMAN

Boeing Co. swung to a third-quarter loss on $3.5 billion of previously disclosed charges caused by the delay-plagued programs for the 747-8 Freighter and the 787 Dreamliner.

The commercial-aircraft manufacturer and defense contractor lowered its forecast for 2009 earnings to between $1.35 and 1.55 a share, down more than $4 from its July forecast. The Chicago-based company stuck with its outlook of $68 billion to $69 billion in revenue for the year.

Monday, rival Lockheed Martin Corp. posted a slight increase in profit but gave a grim view of next year because of belt-tightening at the U.S. Defense Department.

Boeing, which is the nation’s No. 2 government defense contractor, behind Lockheed, has leaned on strength in that business to offset weakness from commercial aircraft as airlines have put purchases on hold as they reduce capacity. Boeing also has tarnished its reputation with delays to both its Dreamliner and 747-8 programs, which resulted in the charges in the most recent period. Boeing last week reiterated that the Dreamliner is set to take its first flight by year-end.

Boeing didn’t say Wednesday that the Dreamliner has moved into a so-called forward-loss position, essentially meaning it is unprofitable, unlike the 747 program.

Chief Executive Jim McNerney said the company looks forward to getting the 747-8 in the air soon.

“The 787 cost reclassification and the 747 charge for increased costs and difficult market conditions clearly overshadowed what continues to be otherwise solid performance across our commercial production programs and defense business,” Mr. McNerney said in a prepared statement.

Boeing posted a loss of $1.56 billion, or $2.23 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $695 million, or 96 cents a share. The combined $3.5 billion in charges on the 747 and Dreamliner, the most Boeing has recorded in a single quarter, amounted to $3.59 a share.

Revenue increased 9.1% to $16.69 billion. A machinists strike damped revenue in the year-earlier period.

The commercial-aircraft segment swung to a loss. Sales rose 13% as higher deliveries offset lower services volume. Boeing received 96 gross orders for commercial planes, though 17 others were rescinded. Backlog fell 8% to $254 billion.

Defense-business revenue rose 3% as earnings increased 4%.

Write to Joan E. Solsman at joan.solsman@dowjones.com

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