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Boeing Dreamliner a Boon to Suppliers?

EVERETT, Wash. ( TheStreet) -- A veritable cargo of space-age substances are taking a ride on Boeing's (BA - Get Report) 787 Dreamliner Tuesday as the seminal and controversial aircraft makes its first-ever test flight through the skies above Seattle.

For the companies that produce the polymers and metals and fibers that go into the Dreamliner, Boeing's business will almost assuredly boost their prospects, and their stock prices -- but only if the 787 takes its hoped-for place among the fleets of the world's airlines. Investors have bid up shares of Boeing in advance of Tuesday's test flight, but they haven't really done the same to the Dreamliner's biggest suppliers.

Figuratively and literally, there is, in other words, a lot riding on the 787.

With that in mind, here's a breakdown of the stuff that Boeing's dreams are made of -- by weight (the 787 comes in at 547,000 pounds, by the way):

  • 50% CARBON FIBER: This super-lightweight yet super-strong composite material represents the cutting edge of aircraft design: it will likely one day replace aluminum as the skin and skeleton of all newly built airplanes, starting with the Dreamliner.
  • The world's biggest supplier of carbon fiber is Toray Industries, of Japan, which has received an estimated $6 billion in orders from Boeing to build out the 787. Toray shares trade on the Tokyo, London, Berlin and Frankfurt stock exchanges, including Xetra.

  • 20% ALUMINUM: The usual suspects, Kaiser (KALU - Get Report) and Alcoa (AA - Get Report), provide this metal to Boeing. Still, compared with airliners up until now -- which were comprised of 50% aluminum by weight -- this pair of producers stands to see a drop-off in the amount of material supplied to Boeing.
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