After two fatal crashes which claimed the lives of 346 passengers, Boeing's (NYSE: BA) important 737 MAX plane was grounded worldwide. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, flight routes and schedules were drastically slashed globally, and as one of the leading aircraft manufacturers, Boeing suffered.
However, as air travel begins to take off once more with vaccines doing their thing, is Boeing a good buy once more?
At last week's Q2 earnings call, Boeing reported its first profit since early March 2019, marking an important psychological milestone for one of the world's largest manufacturers.
The aviation stalwart reported a surprise earnings per share of $0.40, up from a loss of $4.79 per share in Q2 of last year. This far surpassed analyst expectations of a narrowed loss of $0.83 per share. Meanwhile, revenue jumped an impressive 44% to $17 billion, also beating expectations. Revenue in its commercial airplane unit rose nearly 270% from a year earlier to $6.02 billion in the second quarter. On top of this, its commercial backlog grew to 4,155 airplanes, amounting to a worth of $285 billion, up from over 4,000 airplanes valued at $283 billion in Q1, as airlines continue to beef up their offerings with more and more planes needed in the air.
Boeing has also been pretty vocal about its optimism going forward too. The company expects its flagship 737 Max range output to hit as many as 42 units per month by fall 2022, less than three years after two fatal crashes saw this range grounded.
"While we still have a ways to go before a full rebound, it is encouraging to see the commercial market improving, enabled by continued vaccine distribution and increasing travel demand, particularly in domestic markets," CEO Dave Calhoun said last Wednesday.
These are all good signs of a rebound on the horizon for Boeing, which has seen its stock price rise close to 40% in the past year, as of August 2 at market close.
Boeing is still a long way off being the titan of industry that it once was. Sure, it is still one of the largest aircraft manufacturers on the planet, but it has been shaken by contemporary events. A resurgence in COVID-19 cases could be just one of many problems.
The two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 that saw its 737 Max range grounded have caused the company some serious reputational damage. And even now, as sales in the range pick up, the company finds itself struggling with another jetliner, the wide-body 787 Dreamliner. Boeing slashed its delivery forecast for those planes earlier this month and said it would pause handovers to airlines for the second time in less than a year after finding another manufacturing flaw on the planes.
There was also little mention of Boeing's large debt pile, which has grown substantially in the past two-and-a-half years to more than $60 billion. Although only just over $1 billion of this is short-term debt, it is still a lot of money that is owed. Boeing is not exactly rolling in profits right now, and with recovery costs set to be substantial, it will be hoping not to see this pile grow any bigger.
It has been an extremely tough few years for Boeing. However, although no business is too big to fail, Boeing will certainly be hard to put down for too long. Air travel is on the rise once more and demand is high, though there is still a risk of further lockdowns and new pandemic's in the future. Boeing will certainly be at risk should this arise.
For now, it's all about belief and knowledge of the industry. If you truly believe that Boeing is still at the top of its game and won't be affected by trends in the wider airline industry in the years to come, then perhaps it's a stock for you. However, it might be best for the risk-averse to avoid for now.
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Who is the CEO of Boeing?
Dave Calhoun, as of January 13. 2020.
Does Boeing pay dividends?
It did but discontinued due to the pandemic, its last payment was for $2.05 on March 6, 2020.
Does Warren Buffett own Boeing?
No. Warren Buffett does not own shares in Boeing.
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