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Gains Swell Boeing Profit

Guidance for 2006 is below the consensus estimate.
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Updated from 8:03 a.m EDT


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third-quarter earnings more than doubled from last year as two one-time gains swelled the aerospace giant's bottom line.

However, investors sold the shares, as Boeing's adjusted results appeared to fall short of Wall Street estimates. And even though Boeing raised its guidance for next year, the forecast fell short of the analyst consensus.

Boeing earned $1.01 billion, or $1.26 a share, in the quarter, compared with $456 million, or 56 cents a share, a year ago. The latest quarter included gains for a tax settlement and the sale of the Rocketdyne rocket unit that totaled $1.07 a share. Also included are charges for options expensing and post-retirement benefits that totaled 20 cents a share.

Excluding those items, EPS was 39 cents. Boeing also said the September strike by its machinists had chopped 25 cents to 30 cents from the quarter's earnings, implying an adjusted profit of 64 cents to 69 cents had the work stoppage been avoided.

The analyst earnings consensus is 80 cents, according to Thomson First Call. It wasn't clear which of the items analysts were excluding from their forecasts.

Revenue fell 4% from a year ago to $12.63 billion, short of the $13.34 billion Thomson First Call estimate. Shares were trading down $1.96, or 2.9%, at $65.01.

Boeing said it booked $800 million in operating profit in the latest quarter, up 49% from a year ago. Among segments, commercial airplanes saw third-quarter revenue rise 6% to $4.9 billion and earnings from operations rise 42% to $238 million.

Integrated Defense Systems revenue fell 11% to $7.38 billion and earnings from operations rise 60% to $1.3 billion. Earnings declined 69% in IDS' Network Systems unit and 20% in Aircraft and Weapon Systems. Salvaging IDS' earnings, however, was a $786 million improvement in the results of Boeing's launch and orbital systems.

During a conference call, Boeing executives said the company was working hard to address the shortfall in the Network Systems business.

Looking ahead, Boeing forecast full-year earnings of $2.95 to $3.05 a share, including the items that negatively affected the most recent quarter. The Thomson First Call consensus is for earnings of $2.74 a share. For 2006, Boeing raised its guidance to $3.10 to $3.30 a share from $3 to $3.20 a share. The consensus is for a profit of $3.31 a share.

Like rival


, Boeing has been riding strong demand for commercial aircraft from low-cost airlines and carriers in high-growth countries like India and China. Boeing says it now has a $100 billion backlog of orders.

The machinists' strike, which affected Boeing's commercial airplane manufacturing, has caused the company to lower its goal for commercial deliveries to 290 this year, down from the previous estimate of 320.

Still, Boeing left its 2006 delivery forecast unchanged at 395, prompting analysts to question why the company wasn't shifting some of 2005's missed deliveries into next year. On the conference call, executives said Boeing is already building up its production capacity at a steep rate in order to meet its original 2006 target and suggested the company doesn't want to further strain production lines by trying to make up for this year's missed capacity.

The missed production caused by the strike didn't cause any customers to scrap orders, the executives added.