Boeing's earnings, outlook overshadowed by 787 unknowns
A one-month delay in 787 deliveries could cost $1.2 billion in revenue this year, said Zafar Khan, an analyst at Society Generale. He has a "sell" rating on the stock.
Analysts say that most of Boeing's businesses remain unaffected by the 787 problems. It is still producing huge numbers of planes, will enjoy strong cash flow this year as it delivers those jets, and has orders to last another seven years at current production rates.
But a strike by Boeing's engineers' union - the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) - remains a risk in February and could halt the company's FAA review since engineers are crucial to understanding the plane's intricacies.
A strike by engineers also could severely slow or halt deliveries. During a 40-day SPEEA strike in 2000, the company delivered just 19 planes.
Contract talks now hinge on Boeing's efforts to eliminate a defined benefit pension plan for new hires, an attempt to reduce pension expense that Boeing said would reach $2.5 billion in 2012 and that analysts' estimate will total $1.8 billion in 2013.
The pension cost is affected by interest rate assumptions and market dynamics, things Boeing can't control. So some on Wall Street focus on the company's operating earnings, which largely factor out pension costs.
Analysts have trimming their estimates for Boeing's fourth-quarter earnings to $1.19 a share on revenue of $22.35 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Perhaps more telling: some analysts say their 2013 estimates have
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