Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) has been on a good run the past year, with Boeing stock up more than 60% through Feb. 24. Investors have done well thanks to its commercial aircraft business, but increasing competition along with potential political and economic problems in the months ahead should have investors asking themselves a simple question:
When it comes to BA, is the glass half-full, or half-empty?
For Boeing Stock, The Glass Is Half-Full
Future Boeing revenue for its KC-46A refueling plane is going gangbusters, with 34 planes ordered worth $4.9 billion to the company since August 2016. SpiceJet, India’s fourth-largest airline with a 13% market share, recently awarded Boeing a $22 billion contract to provide the discount airline with 100 736 Max narrow-body planes, 50 777 and 787 wide-body jets and an additional 55 aircraft previously ordered, but whose terms were renegotiated under this important contract.
India, specifically, will need approximately 1,850 new planes over the next 20 years, a value of more than $265 billion; the entire Asia-Pacific will require 15,130 jets, valued at $2.3 trillion. The SpiceJet deal is positive news for owners of Boeing stock because airlines in the country generally don’t order Boeing planes.
Additionally, Boeing is a favorite of President Trump, despite his tweets to the contrary during the election campaign. Forbes contributor Loren Thompson recently highlighted how Boeing manages to remain a global player in the aerospace industry, despite doing most of its work in the U.S. without government subsidies.
I’m not a Trump fan, but I do like Boeing’s ability to get the job done without the handouts airplane manufacturers in other countries routinely receive. The F/A-18 Super Hornet could become a complementary aircraft to the F-35, something that didn’t appear nearly as possible before Trump took office. That’s a good thing for Boeing’s defense segment.
Boeing’s core earnings in 2017 are expected to be at least $9.10 per share on $90.5 billion in revenue, with free cash flow of $8.5 billion, or an increase of almost 7%.
OK, The Glass Is Half-Empty, Too
The Trump relationship cuts both ways. If he decides to get into a full-on trade war with other countries possessing significant aircraft production, Boeing, which generates between 60%-70% of its commercial aircraft revenue from airlines outside the U.S., would suffer greatly.
An interesting statistic from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) appeared online recently, which suggests the airline industry’s best days are behind it. Specifically, IATA projects that net profits of the global airline industry will fall 16.3% in 2017 to $29.6 billion, a sign that orders will continue to slow in the years ahead.
Further, the 777 and 777x are running out of runway. Boeing sold just 17 of the 777 and no 777x’s in 2016. With a backlog of just 306, Boeing needs to get more orders for the 777x prior to making its first deliveries in 2020.
Investors have worried that Boeing is also having problems with 787 orders and will cancel its plans for increasing production of the plane to 14 per month from the current rate of 12. While CEO Dennis Muilenburg doesn’t see output dropping below current production, it’s nonetheless a concern for BA stock investors, especially with the 777 production dropping to five planes per month come August.
Boeing recently agreed to open a 737 completion center in China with COMAC, which will include installing cabins and painting the aircraft. Some Boeing stock investors are worried that the relationship will lead to the theft of technology by the Chinese. Others debate the veracity of such claims.
However, the rest of the production remains in the U.S.
The Bottom Line on BA Stock
Boeing stock has done well since Trump was elected president, gaining nearly 25%. InvestorPlace contributor Vince Martin recently wondered if profits should be taken; he makes a compelling argument.
However, given healthy earnings, the potential market in China — which the new completion center will exploit — and a 3.2% dividend yield on Boeing stock, I still see the glass being half-full.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.