Meanwhile, UBS analyst David Strauss on Wednesday raised his target price for Boeing to $75 from $72. Strauss, who maintained a neutral rating on the shares, follows 787 developments so intensely that he tracks movements of the specially modified 747s that carry 787 components into Everett, Wash., and Charleston, S.C., where the airplane is assembled, in order "to gauge the pace of shipments from the structural suppliers." In a report, Strauss said the pace is quickening.
While the current rate is five aircraft per month, "we believe the 787 supply chain is proceeding with the planned ramp to 7 per month, ahead of Boeing's rate increase," Strauss wrote. "Even with the FAA review/grounding, we believe it's more likely than not that Boeing continues to build at its planned rate until it's apparent that a fix for the battery issue will require an extended period of time (more than couple of months)."
In another sign of potential progress in returning the 787 to the skies, The Seattle Times reported Thursday that Boeing instructed a small team of top machinists at its Auburn parts plant to begin building new, high-strength containment boxes for the 787 batteries, in order to get the aircraft flying again as soon as April. The first 100 boxes should be ready by March 18, the newspaper said.
But United (UAL - Get Report) said Thursday that it has eliminated 787 flying from its schedule until after June 5, with one exception -- a planned Denver to Tokyo flight would begin on May 12. The service inauguration had been scheduled for March 31.Follow @tedreednc -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed