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Boeing Posts Wider-Than-Forecast Q4 Loss, Delays 777X Launch: Revenues Beat

Boeing said charges linked to its delayed 777X widebody ate into its bottom line, with a wider-than-expected fourth quarter loss of $15.25 per share.

Boeing Co.  (BA) - Get The Boeing Company Report posted a much wider-than-expected fourth quarter loss Wednesday, and delayed the launch of its 777X widebody, as the planemaker continues to grapple with generational changes in airline demand triggered by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing said its adjusted core loss for the three months ending in December was pegged at $15.25 per share, down from a profit of $2.33 per share over the same period last year and sharply lower than the Street consensus forecast of a loss of $1.80 per share. Boeing booked charges of more than $8 billion over the quarter including $6.5 billion linked to delays in the 777X widebody jet, which won't be pushed into service until late 2023.

Group revenues, the company said. fell 14.5% to $15.3 billion, but topped analysts' estimates of a $15.07 billion tally. Free cash flow, however, was measured at -4.274 billion.

 "2020 was a year of profound societal and global disruption which significantly constrained our industry. The deep impact of the pandemic on commercial air travel, coupled with the 737 MAX grounding, challenged our results," said CEO David Calhoun. "I am proud of the resilience and dedication our global team demonstrated in this environment as we strengthened our safety processes, adapted to our market and supported our customers, suppliers, communities and each other." 

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"Our balanced portfolio of diverse defense, space and services programs continues to provide important stability as we lay the foundation for our recovery," he added. "While the impact of COVID-19 presents continued challenges for commercial aerospace into 2021, we remain confident in our future, squarely-focused on safety, quality and transparency as we rebuild trust and transform our business."  

Boeing shares were marked 3% lower in early trading following the earnings release to change hands at $196.05 each, a move that trims the stock's six-month gain to around 15%. 

Earlier Wednesday, Boeing got a boost from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) when it lifted its 22-month ban on the 737 MAX, clearing the jet to return to service in the world's biggest economic bloc.

"We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval," said EASA executive director Patrick Ky. "But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service."

Boeing said its delivered more than 40 737 MAX jets since it was cleared to return to service in the United States by the Federal Aviation Administration.