alexa Wall Street girds for ugly Boeing 4Q results - Daily Nation

Wall Street girds for ugly Boeing 4Q results

Wednesday January 29 2020

Boeing logo

The Boeing logo. PHOTO | MANDEL NGAN | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
More by this Author

Boeing, which remains mired in crisis following two fatal crashes of its top-selling 737 MAX, is set to report another ugly set of financial results on Wednesday.

The aerospace giant, led by newly-installed Chief Executive David Calhoun, is expected to announce billions of dollars in additional costs connected to the MAX grounding.

The plane has been out of service since March after the second of two crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing suspended production on the plane earlier this month.

A hefty charge could push annual results into the red for the first time in more than two decades, capping a disastrous year in which Boeing already lost its crown as the world's biggest plane maker.

Still, much of the bad news is already baked into the stock.

Shares have fallen more than 20 percent over the last 10 and a half months as the grounding has dragged on, prompting downgrades from credit agencies S&P and Moody's.

Advertisement

With its stock so beaten down "there could at some point be a tactical trading opportunity" when the plane is cleared to fly again, Credit Suisse said in a note earlier this month.

Until then, "we see numerous risks that impact the long-term investment thesis and therefore our ability to become constructive," Credit Suisse added.

In a positive development, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman said Friday that the agency was "pleased" with Boeing's progress in meeting MAX milestones, but the agency still has no timetable to return the jet to service.

Analysts will press Calhoun for updates on speculation that the FAA could clear the MAX to fly before the current mid-2020 timeframe.

Calhoun is also likely to face questions on other commercial programmes, including whether Boeing will further trim production of the 787 Dreamliner due to lower Chinese demand, and the status of a long-discussed plane aimed at middle distances.

Through September 30, Boeing had incurred more than $9 billion in costs associated with the MAX, including a $5.6 billion charge to compensate airlines for disruptions from the grounding.

But those costs are expected to swell due to a longer grounding, which has further delayed deliveries of new aircraft to airlines and taken already-delivered planes out of service for longer.

Boeing has also faced increased scrutiny over how it responded to company employees who raised questions about safety and the release of embarrassing internal communications in which company officials ridiculed regulators, airlines and Boeing's safety culture.

Leading airline executives have greeted the arrival of Calhoun, previously an executive at General Electric and Blackstone Group who is viewed as a better communicator than predecessor Dennis Muilenburg.

Calhoun has emphasized the need for transparency as Boeing seeks to win back trust from regulators, airlines and other stakeholders following a series of missteps by Muilenburg in response to the two crashes.

But turnaround efforts by Calhoun will take time to run their course and not be apparent in Wednesday's figures.

Credit Suisse estimated the company would announce $16.3 billion in additional costs to cover airlines for grounded fleets, late deliveries and additional training.

The bank also expects the impact from the MAX's production halt following a period of lower output to add $3.9 billion in program costs.

Canaccord Genuity did not release estimates, but predicted Boeing would "substantially" increase its set-asides for customers and boost costs on the 737 MAX program.

The further delay of the return to service "adds increased risk to the supply chain and further raises questions on the timing of the production increase and eventual production levels," Canaccord said in its note.

Analysts are also expecting it to take longer for Boeing to ramp up production of the 737 MAX once factories resume work.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has estimated more than $20 billion in costs related