Boeing Posts Surprise Loss, 737 MAX Costs Climb to $19B

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Deferred production costs grew by $2.6 billion, clipping the jet's long-term profit potential, Boeing said in a presentation Wednesday. That brought the total projected cost to $18.4 billion.

The plane maker said it lost $636 million in 2019, marking the first annual loss since 1997.

"Everyone expected this to be a complete kitchen sink", Ken Herbert, analyst with Canaccord Genuity. Shares of the stock were trading at about $324 after market opened Wednesday. Boeing now expects to be hit with a $19 billion bill that could get even larger.

Calhoun said in a prepared statement ahead of the call that Boeing is "focused on returning the 737 Max to service safely and restoring the long-standing trust that the Boeing brand represents with the flying public". That crash came less than five months after a Lion Air Max went down off the coast of Indonesia.

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Boeing also noted a loss of $2.33 per share for the fourth quarter of 2019, with revenue in the last three months of the year decreasing to $17.91 billion.

The firm's new chief executive, David Calhoun, said to reporters on January 22 that the firm will not suspend or cut the company's dividend "unless something dramatic changes". "Let's not talk about the specific bucket of the charges. And the answer is "yes". Boeing had initially targeted 737 MAX approval in 2019, a timeline that proved overly optimistic and, coupled with criticism over the company's culture, contributed to former CEO Dennis Muilenburg's departure.

In October, Boeing also said it will reduce 787 production per month from 14 to 12 in late 2020. And Boeing set aside US$410 million for an additional orbital flight in case NASA requires the mission after the company's Starliner spacecraft missed a rendezvous with the International Space Station last month.

Airplane fuselages bound for Boeing's 737 Max production facility sit in storage behind the Spirit AeroSystems Holdings headquarters in Wichita, Kan., on December 17, 2019.

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New CEO David Calhoun on Wednesday stood by his estimate that regulators will certify changes Boeing is making to the 737 Max by mid-year. Analysts were looking for EPS of $0.57 and revenues of $80.04 billion.

The loss was far worse than analysts had been expecting, but Boeing shares nevertheless rose 3pc to $324. Boeing had taken a $5.6 billion pretax charge in the second quarter to compensate its customers.

United States aviation giant Boeing faces a crisis over its top-selling 737 MAX, which has been grounded since March 2019 after two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Calhoun called the messages "horrible" and criticized company leaders who didn't disclose the messages right away. Boeing, however, plans to raise production back to 12/month in 2023.

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