Boeing trims 737 delivery target
Revised forecast is due to quality issues at supplier Spirit AeroSystems
Boeing on Wednesday cut its 737 delivery forecast for 2023 citing quality issues at supplier Spirit AeroSystems, a temporary setback for the plane maker as it looks to recover from its own set of crises.
Despite a third-quarter net loss of $1.6bn, Boeing stuck to its goal of generating $3bn to $5bn in free cash flow for 2023. Shares were up 3.6% in premarket trade.
The company was aiming to deliver 400 to 450 737 jets in 2023 but was forced to temper that goal to 375 to 400 jets after two separate quality issues at Spirit, which makes fuselages for the cash-cow narrowbody jets.
Boeing plans to meet a delivery target of at least 70 wide-body 787 Dreamliners in 2023 and is transitioning from a production rate of four to five jets a month. It also intends to keep its 737 production ramp-up plan intact.
Meanwhile, the company’s ailing defence business continues to struggle with cost overruns on fixed-price contracts. It reported another quarter of negative margins due to combined losses of $797m on its next-generation Air Force One and an unspecified satellite programme.
Earlier in October, Boeing said it had expanded the scope of its inspections of a production defect arising from misdrilled holes that affect its best-selling 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
“I have heard those outside our company wondering if we’ve lost a step. I view it as quite the opposite,” said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun in a letter to employees. “Thanks to the culture we’re building, we have identified non-conformances from the past that we now have the rigour to find and fix once and for all.”
The company delivered 70 737 aircraft in the third quarter, down 20%. Plane makers get the bulk of the payment when they hand over jets, so delivery numbers are closely watched.
Boeing has worked to step up deliveries to speed up its recovery from overlapping safety and pandemic-induced crises. However, it has faced disruptions for the second year in a row, though demand for jets is booming.
Boeing “is hanging on by its fingernails” to its free cash-flow target, but investors will wonder whether ongoing problems could bleed into cash-flow goals for 2024 and beyond, said Rob Stallard of Vertical Research Partners.
For its third quarter to September, Boeing reported a wider-than-expected cash burn of $310m compared with cash generation of $2.91bn a year ago. Analysts had projected a $272m cash burn for the quarter, according to LSEG data.
The company reported a wider-than-expected loss of $3.26 a share, compared with average analysts’ expectation of $2.96 a share. It reported $18.1bn in revenue, slightly beating consensus estimates of $18.0bn.
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