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Boeing Cruises Past Estimate

It issues mixed guidance.
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, whose series of contract wins helped close out an eventful 2005, reported fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday that more than doubled from a year ago and beat analyst estimates.

Boeing earned $460 million, or 58 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $186 million, or 23 cents a share, a year ago. The latest quarter included a charge of 16 cents a share for an asset sale. The year-ago quarter included a net charge of 32 cents a share related to two production programs.

Adjusted earnings in the latest quarter were 74 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were forecasting 44 cents a share.

Sales rose 7% from a year ago to $14.20 billion, short of the $14.78 billion Wall Street forecast. Boeing's product sales rose 6% to $11.88 billion. The company said its backlog was $202 billion at the end of 2005, up 33% from a year ago, reflecting "more than 1,000 commercial airplane orders received during the year."

In the commercial airplane division, fourth-quarter revenue rose 8% from a year ago to $5.9 billion on "higher airplane deliveries, a favorable model mix and higher spares revenue." Operating margin in the segment was 5.6%, reversing a charged-soaked negative margin a year ago, reflecting higher revenues partially offset by planned increases in research and development expense.

The jetmaker raised earnings guidance for the next two years, saying it expects to earn $3.25 to $3.45 a share on sales of $60 billion in 2006, and $4.10 to $4.30 a share on sales of $63.5 billion to $64.5 billion in 2007. Analysts were forecasting $3.32 a share on $63.16 billion this year and $4.15 a share on $67.07 billion next year.

The 2006 revenue guidance "is below prior estimates due solely to a previously disclosed accounting change in our commercial airplane business."