Boeing (BA - Get Report) shares drifted lower Monday after the planemaker said it would strip CEO Dennis Muilenburg of his chairman role in order to allow his to focus entire on bringing the grounded 737 MAX aircraft back into service.
Boeing said the board has "full confidence in Dennis as CEO", adding that splitting the role of chairman would allow him more time to run the company, focus on product development and safety and marshal the company's ongoing attempt to win FAA approval for the 737 MAX following its grounding earlier this year.
"I am fully supportive of the board's action. Our entire team is laser-focused on returning the 737 MAX safely to service and delivering on the full breadth of our company's commitments," Muilenburg said in a brief statement late Friday.
Boeing shares were marked 0.1% lower at the start of trading Monday to change hands at $374.55 each. Boeing gained 1.08% Friday, compared to a 1.21% advance for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to end the session at $374.92 each, leaving the stocks with a 16.25% year-to-date gain.
Last week, American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL - Get Report) extended cancellations linked to the grounded 737 MAX into at least early January, challenging the planemaker's timetable for the troubled aircraft's return. Domestic rivals United Airlines (UAL - Get Report) and Southwest Airlines (LUV - Get Report) quickly followed suit.
The flagship aircraft's fate was further complicated by a Wall Street Journal report that suggested European officials aren't satisfied with safety issues related to Boeing's plans to repair the 737 MAX's software, which involves both flight control computers and will address concerns for the system raised by the FAA in June.
Last month, the paper reported that a panel of international regulators will criticize the FAA's approval process for the 737 MAX aircraft, which remains grounded following two deadly crashes in March 2019 and November 2018 that took the lives of 346 passengers.
The Journal said the panel, comprised of regulators from major economies around the world, will ask for more transparency from the FAA over its certification procedures.
Boeing also reported a net order tally of -84 jets for the nine months ending in September, compared to 127 for its European rival Airbus (EADSY) , but said indicated it had converted at least one previous order into a potential 737 MAX deliver.
"Based on reported deliveries, we are modeling (third quarter earnings) of $1.35 and (free cash flow) of -$1.2 billion," Credit Suisse analyst Robert Spingarn said late last week as his trimmed his price target on the group to $416 per share with an 'outperform' rating.
"Our EPS estimate does not include any additional MAX-related charges, if any," Spingarn said. To be clear, we do not expect BA shares to react strongly based on the quarter itself (unless there are substantial MAX charges), but rather on the outlook for the MAX return to service, commentary on the 787 backlog and future production rates, commentary on the 777 bridge, and thoughts on BA's ability to maintain (commercial airplane profit margins) in the teens."