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Boeing stock slides after tumultuous quarter headlined by 737 Max crisis

In Business
April 25, 2024

Boeing (BA) stock slid 2.8% on Wednesday after the company reported losses that were narrower than fear, but still reported negative free cash flow of nearly $4 billion as a result of the 737 Max crisis that has shaken the aerospace giant.

Boeing reported a first quarter core, or adjusted, loss per share of $1.13, narrower than the $1.72 estimated, on revenue of $16.57 billion, which was above forecasts of $16.25 billion but an 8% decline from a year ago.

The plane maker also reported negative operating cash flow of $3.36 billion, compared with a loss of $318 million last year, and negative free cash flow of $3.92 billion, compared with a loss of $787 million last year. Boeing said the results reflect lower commercial delivery volume and did not give updated production plans.

“Our first quarter results reflect the immediate actions we’ve taken to slow down 737 production to drive improvements in quality,” Boeing president and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a statement. “We will take the time necessary to strengthen our quality and safety management systems and this work will position us for a stronger and more stable future.”

After the release, Boeing shares initially rose in early trade, but fell midday after Moody’s downgraded Boeing’s unsecured debt rating to Baa3 from Baa2, citing the “inadequate performance of Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes segment.” Boeing stock has lost more than 36% so far this year.

Boeing’s troubles begin in early in 2024, when an Alaska Airlines 737-9 MAX jet suffered a high-profile door plug blowout. It led to a grounding of its 737-9 MAX fleet, increased scrutiny of the plane maker’s 737 production and safety processes, and decreased overall plane production.

It also led to a new whistleblower documenting production issues with the 787 Dreamliner and the eventual departure of CEO Dave Calhoun. Boeing stock was the second-worst performer in the S&P 500 (^GSPC) during the quarter.

Boeing declined to give 2024 guidance in its report.

In terms of Q1 deliveries, earlier this month, Boeing reported it delivered 83 planes in total, including 67 737 jets, three 767s, and 13 787 Dreamliner wide-body jets. The total of 83 planes was a 47% drop from a year ago, when Boeing delivered 130 planes, with 113 737s and 11 787 Dreamliners as the two biggest components.

Boeing’s deliveries were slowed by heightened scrutiny of its plane assembly processes at its plants in Washington and South Carolina, which led to higher costs. Impacts on Boeing deliveries and plane production could have massive repercussions on Boeing’s cash flow and reserves as well.

From Left, Boeing Quality Engineer Sam Salehpour; Ed Pierson, Executive Director of The Foundation for Aviation Safety and a Former Boeing Engineer; Joe Jacobsen, Aerospace Engineer and Technical Advisor to the Foundation for Aviation Safety and a former FAA Engineer; and Shawn Pruchnicki, Ph.D, Professional Practice Assistant Professor for Integrated Systems Engineering at The Ohio State University, are sworn in before they testify at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs - Subcommittee on Investigations hearing to examine Boeing's broken safety culture on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Boeing Quality Engineer Sam Salehpour and other aviation, engineering, and technical experts are sworn in before they testify at a Senate hearing to examine Boeing’s safety culture on April 17, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Last week, Boeing was the focus of two separate hearings in the Senate. One probed Boeing’s safety practices and featured claims from a Boeing engineer-turned-whistleblower named Sam Salehpour about the 787 Dreamliner. Separately, another Senate panel held a hearing calling for a deeper investigation by the Justice Department to figure out whether Boeing violated the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement.

In addition, airline partners like United (UAL) and Delta (DAL) have sought out new planes from other plane manufacturers like Airbus (AIR.PA), which has benefited from Boeing’s recent issues.

Nevertheless, Boeing still snagged 131 gross orders in Q1, with its commercial order backlog still sitting at a whopping 5,591 planes worth approximately $448 billion. Despite all the troubles Boeing has been through, it and Airbus are still the only suppliers of wide-body commercial jets.

Similarly, Boeing’s defense business is also of crucial importance to many governments, most importantly the US. In addition to fighter jets, military helicopters, and tanker jets, Boeing makes a number of drones for both air and sea use.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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