CHICAGO – Boeing Co.’s stock rose to the latest in a series of all-time highs Thursday, boosted in part by two Wall Street upgrades after the jet maker delivered more commercial aircraft than expected in the first quarter.
The aerospace company also announced more new orders, which have helped its outlook this week.
Shares in Boeing crossed the $80 threshold for the first time, reaching $80.13 before closing up 71 cents at $79.82 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock is up 37 percent from a year ago.
On Monday, Boeing said it delivered 98 commercial planes in the first quarter, up from 70 in the same period a year ago. The number benefited from deliveries that were supposed to have taken place in the fourth quarter of 2005 but were delayed by the Machinists union strike.
Citing the better-than-expected deliveries, Goldman Sachs on Wednesday raised its estimate of first-quarter earnings to 78 cents a share from 71 cents a share, up from 64 cents a share a year ago, and Ragen MacKenzie boosted its estimate to 80 cents a share from 72 cents a share.
Both are cautious about the prospects of Chicago-based Boeing’s big stock surge continuing, however, based on the already high price and lingering questions about the financial health of its customers in the commercial airplane industry – its second-biggest business behind military contracting.
“Airline revenue growth has been stronger than expected in recent quarters, particularly in the U.S.,” Goldman Sachs analyst Glenn Engel said in a note to investors. “However, we note that U.S. airlines as a whole are likely to be only barely profitable in 2006 and have distressed balance sheets.”
Rising oil prices also are offsetting the improvement in revenues, he said.