It must have been scary for Boeing for those few months in which the all important Ex-Im bank was taken offline. The result: moments ago BA announced Q4 earnings which while beating expectations (which were sharply lowered in recent months) of $1.27, were still a 31% drop compared to Q4 of last year, driven by a 4% drop in the top line, leading to a substantial decline in gross profit from $3.8 billion to just 2.9 billion, and a whopping 38% plunge in operating cash flow to just $3.1 billion (and $2.5 biliion in FCF).
The sharp decline took place even as Boeing benefited generously from America's numerous wars around the globe, leading to a 7% increase in military aircraft revenue in the fourth quarter, however it was not enough to offset a 7% drop in commercial aircraft deliveries, which at 182 in Q4 were 13 lower from the 195 a year ago.
But the biggest hit to Boeing was its slashed guidance, which came in far below consensus estimates:
- Boeing's 2016 Core EPS guidance of between $8.15 and $8.35 was far below the $9.42 expected;
- Boeing's 2016Revenue of $93-$95 billion was also well below the $97.3 billion expected.
The rest of the guidance was rather uneventful:
However the cherry on top was a reported that came not in the earnings report but a few hours earlier, when the Seattle Times announced that "Boeing is likely to announce Wednesday morning another production rate cut, this time for the 777 program, according to a senior executive with a 777 customer whom Boeing consulted as it prepared its plan.
Just last week Boeing announced that due to slow sales it would cut the rate on the 747 jumbo jet program, starting in September, to one plane every two months. The company said it would book an $885 million pretax write-off as a result of that rate cut.
Another multimillion-dollar charge would need to be added if the 777 is cut. A second source also indicated that the announcement could come Wednesday, when the company reports its quarterly earnings.
Boeing currently doesn’t have enough sales to fill all the 777 delivery slots between now and when production of the new 777X kicks into high gear after the turn of the decade. Most Wall Street analysts have been predicting a 777 rate cut from the current 100 jets per year — but after the 747 cut, they’ve assumed a 777 announcement wouldn’t come until later in the year.
Which explains our confusion when one month ago we reported that a "Used Boeing 777 Sells For 97% Off List Price"
In short, it is clear that the manufacturing recession is now hitting such Dow Jones stalwarts as Boeing, and speaking of "hit", BA was down almost 6% at last check, and since it accounts for 5.4% of the Dow Jones, the aircraft maker will weigh on the entire market for the rest of today's session.
But the biggest surprise is that BA did not announce some massive debt-funded buyback program: is management, or its bankers, getting worried that levering up massively to repurchase stock is no longer the smartest strategy.