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(BA) - Get Boeing Company Report

narrowed its first-quarter loss, with the help of a strong performance in its defense unit.

Boeing posted a quarterly loss of $478 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.25 billion, or $1.54 a share, a year earlier. The results include charges related to declining values of acquisitions and aircraft.

Excluding charges, the company had a first-quarter profit of 42 cents a share, compared with 72 cents a share in the prior-year period. The results beat analysts' estimates of 31 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

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Revenue at the aircraft maker fell 11% to $12.26 billion from $13.82 billion in the prior year.

The company blamed lower-than-expected deliveries of airplanes in the past quarter for a decline in operating income. It affirmed forecasts to deliver 280 jets this year, which would be the lowest level for the company in seven years.

The company said space-related business and government defense contracts were strong, compensating for weakness in commercial jetliner and satellite areas.

Boeing now expects 2003 adjusted earnings of $1.70 to $1.90 per share, 20 cents lower than initial estimates.

Shares of the company were up 1% at $28.07 in afternoon trading Wednesday.