EVERETT, Wash. ( TheStreet) -- Boeing ( BA) said first-quarter net income rose 13% despite a 25% decline in earnings by its commercial aircraft division. The aircraft and defense company said it earned $586 million, or 78 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated 72 cents. Revenue shrunk by 2% to $14.9 billion; analysts had estimated $15.1 billion.
During the same quarter a year earlier, Boeing earned $519 million, or 70 cents a share. "We're off to a good start in an important year for our company," said CEO Jim McNerney, in a prepared statement. "We delivered strong operating performance, made significant progress on 787 and 747-8 flight testing, and scored a major win on the U.S. Air Force tanker program."
During the quarter, the company achieved an operating margin of 6.7% despite lower volumes and higher pension expense. Free cash flow diminished to negative $1.4 billion, compared with negative $471 million a year earlier, a result of the lower volumes and continued investment in development programs. Boeing ended the quarter with $7.8 billion in cash and marketable securities, down from $10.5 billion a year earlier. Consolidated debt was $11.7 billion, down from $12.4 billion. Boeing's prized asset, its order backlog, reached $329 billion at the end of the quarter, up from $321 billion at the end of 2010. Results for Boeing Commercial Airplanes included delivery of 104 aircraft, down from 108 a year earlier. Revenue shrank by 5% to $7.1 billion, the result of planned lower 777 deliveries. Earnings shrank by 25% to $509 million. Operating margin shrank by 1.9 points to 7.2%. Boeing said its first 787 delivery is expected in the third quarter, with orders for 835 airplanes from 56 customers on the books. Meanwhile, delivery of the first 747-8 freighter is planned for mid-2011. In Boeing Defense, Space & Security, revenue was flat at $7.6 billion. Earnings grew 1% to $671 million and the operating margin grew by 0.1 points to 8.8%. Boeing reaffirmed its 2011 financial guidance towards earnings between $3.80 and $4 a share, with revenue between $68 billion and $71 billion. Revenue for Boeing Commercial Aircraft is estimated to be $36 billion to $38 billion. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte P/>>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed