) -- The recent 787 fire continues to trouble
investors, but some analysts say the share price already reflects the expected delay.
"Boeing continues to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on 787, and we expect there to be continued risk on the program for at least the next 12 months," wrote RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Stallard, in a report issued Monday. "However, we think investors' expectations are back at rock bottom already.
"As in previous decades, we think the aerospace cycle will still be the major driver of the stock, and the outlook for airlines, new orders and increased deliveries remains robust," wrote Stallard, who reiterated an outperform on Boeing shares. Sales of the 737 and 777
continue to subsidize 787 and 747 delays.
Boeing shares were trading Monday morning at $63.75, down 9% since opening at $70.27 on Nov. 9, the day
on a test flight near Laredo, Texas. During the same period, the S&P 500 index has declined about 3%. In its most recent statement on the incident, issued Nov. 24,
it is "developing minor design changes to power distribution panels on the 787 and updates to the systems software that manages and protects power distribution on the airplane."
Boeing said the problem began as either a short circuit or an electrical arc in the P100 power distribution panel, which receives power from the left engine and distributes it to various systems. The most likely cause was the presence of foreign debris. Boeing said the design changes will improve the protection within the panel and the software changes will further improve fault protection.
The great mystery now is the new delivery schedule for the aircraft. "A revised 787 program schedule is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks," the company said. The first aircraft was initially scheduled to be delivered to launch customer
in May 2008.
The repeated 787 delays are "a great disappointment," Shinichiro Ito, CEO of launch customer
The Financial Times
in a recent interview. Ito said ANA is pressing Boeing to clarify whether further delays will occur.
Stallard said he expects the first delivery to slip from the current target, first quarter 2011. He has factored a six-month delay into his forecast and has cut his 2011 delivery estimate from 22 to 10. Since the initial deliveries will have "miniscule margins," earnings won't be hurt much. Stallard now expects full-year 2011 earnings of $4.52 and his price target is $78, down from $80. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters estimate full-year 2011 earnings of $4.60.
In a report issued Nov. 22, Gleacher & Co. analyst Peter Arment said he anticipated a 787 delay of three to six months. He reiterated a buy and a $100 price target, or 16 times 2012 estimates. Arment said he estimates earnings of $8 a share in 2014 with only 787 minimal contributions. "A delay of six months or less is baked into the BA stock as there has been a lot of speculation of a 9+-month delay," he wrote. "Despite the upcoming 787 schedule change, we believe the core business still supports an entry point level in the low $60s."
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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