Boeing increases earnings outlook on strong jet sales

The Boeing Co. made $837 million in profit in the third quarter and has raised its 2010 earnings estimate.

Boeing beat analysts’ expectations with its third quarter performance, posting earnings of $1.12 per share on Wednesday. That’s 6 cents per share higher than analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected.

“Our results and revised outlook reflect the continued strong performance of our commercial production and services programs and the ability of our defense businesses to produce solid results in a challenging environment,” Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney said in a statement.

Boeing also said that it expects to post higher earnings for the year, raising its outlook to between $3.80 to $4 per share, up from $3.50 to $3.80 per share.

During the same period last year, Boeing lost almost $1.6 billion as it took charges because of delays for new planes.

Boeing reconfirmed that it plans to deliver its new 787 in the middle of the first quarter of 2011 and its 747-8 mid-year.

“We’re getting through more and more of the test points … everyday on the 787,” McNerney said.

Rolls-Royce, which is one of two engine-makers on the 787 program, ran into troubles with its Trent 1000 engines for the Dreamliner earlier this year. On Wednesday, McNerney said that the Rolls engine is “something that we’re working on.” However, Boeing’s CEO said that Rolls is confident about its fix for the engine and believes that the Rolls engine won’t need to be re-certified by the FAA. Instead, Rolls will need to provide federal regulators with additional information.

For 2010, Boeing said Wednesday that it will deliver 460 aircraft.

For the quarter, Boeing booked 257 gross orders for airplanes during the quarter while 36 orders were removed from its order book. That’s up from the third quarter in 2009, when Boeing won only 79 net orders. The company’s commercial airplanes’ backlog remains strong with 3,401 airplanes valued at $255 billion.

In fact, customers placing new orders today couldn’t hope to get any new airplane from Boeing until around the end of 2012, McNerney said.

As Boeing winds down on its 747-8 and 787 programs, the company is considering the future of its 737 and 777 programs. McNerney indicated that Boeing continues to look at an all-new 737 for around the 2020 timeframe.

But “something that may be nearer in would be the 777” replacement or re-engined airplane, McNerney said.

McNerney, however, is not interested in having two planes in development at the same time again, as Boeing did with the 747-8 and 787.

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