Boeing lifts 2013 forecast as quarterly profit soars

Veronica Smith

Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) on Wednesday raised its 2013 earnings forecast on the wings of soaring third-quarter profit, lifted by a 15 percent jump in revenues from its commercial aircraft division.

Net earnings totaled $1.16 billion for the July-September quarter, an increase of 12 percent from $1.03 billion in the same period in 2012, the US aerospace (Other OTC: USAE - news) and defense giant said.

Earnings per share came in at $1.51 compared with $1.35 a year ago.

Adjusted earnings per share, excluding certain pension expenses, increased 16 percent to $1.80, well above Wall Street analysts' average estimate of $1.55.

Revenues rose 11 percent to $22.13 billion, reflecting higher commercial airplane deliveries and beating expectations of $21.68 billion.

"Consistently strong operating performance is driving higher earnings, revenue and cash flow as we deliver on our record backlog and return increased value to shareholders," said Jim McNerney, Boeing's chairman, president and chief executive.

"Despite the uncertainty of the US defense market, overall our customer-focused business strategies and disciplined execution on our programs are producing the results we expect, and our strong year-to-date performance and positive outlook allow us to increase our 2013 guidance for earnings and operating cash flow," he said.

Boeing raised its 2013 core earnings outlook to a range between $6.50 and $6.65 per share, from the prior estimate of $6.20-$6.40 range.

It maintained its revenue forecast of between $83 billion and $86 billion.

Boeing expects to deliver 635 to 645 new commercial aircraft in the year, including more than 60 787s, at an operating margin revised to above 10 percent, an increase of a half percentage point.

The Chicago-based company, which employs more than 170,000 people in the US and in 70 countries, said it had third-quarter operating cash flow before voluntary pension contributions of $4.31 billion, up from $2.35 billion a year ago.

It had a record $415 billion order backlog, including $27 billion net orders booked during the quarter.

Third-quarter profits from its Commercial Airplanes subsidiary soared 40 percent to $1.62 billion, while revenues rose 15 percent to $13.99 billion.

Despite technical glitches that have plagued Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner , the company reported "continued strong demand" for its cutting-edge plane. As a result, the company said it planned to increase its 787 production rate for 2016 to 12 airplanes per month from 10, and would raise that 14 airplanes per month before the end of the decade.

The company booked 200 net aircraft orders in the third quarter. Deliveries accelerated, to 170 airplanes from 149 a year ago, as the pace of 787 deliveries nearly doubled.

The Commercial Airplanes division reported a backlog of nearly 4,800 airplanes valued at $345 billion.

Headwinds from US cutbacks in defense spending amid a protracted Washington budget battle that forced sharp "sequestration" automatic cutbacks beginning in March appeared to impact Boeing's Defense, Space & Security subsidiary.

Profits in the smaller unit fell 19 percent, led by a 48 percent fall in earnings from military aircraft. Boeing said that its military aircraft unit's operating margin fell 6.2 percent, in part reflecting one-time charges on the F-15 and C-17 programs.

The Defense unit had an order backlog of $70 billion, with 38 percent of that representing orders from international customers.

Investors cheered Boeing's financial results, pushing the Dow component's shares up 5.9 percent to $129.76 in late-morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

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