Boeing (NYSE:BA) stock effectively symbolizes the strength of U.S. diplomatic influence and its military prowess. However, the thorns of interconnectivity raise big questions for the company.
As you know, the Biden administration along with western allies have imposed severe sanctions on Russia following its decision to invade Ukraine.
Due to the collective weight and intensity of the punitive measures, Russia’s economy and societal order are taking huge hits.
However, Russia is home to vast riches of natural resources, including titanium, which is critical to building aircraft. Therefore, BA stock finds itself in a very tricky situation.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, Boeing joined many other companies in suspending parts of its business in Russia. However, “it still has to deal with its relationship to a key titanium supplier led by a sanctioned oligarch who once worked in the KGB with President Vladimir Putin.”
This of course has put Boeing in an awkward predicament. Per the WSJ, “Boeing declined to say what it will do about its joint venture with the titanium supplier led by Mr. Putin’s former intelligence colleague, Sergey Chemezov.”
The company “has been getting about a third of its titanium from Russia, with the rest coming from the U.S., Japan, China and Kazakhstan,” a Boeing spokesperson said.
It’s going to have some tough choices ahead. Unfortunately, BA stock might depend on circumstances beyond the underlying company’s control.
BA Stock and a Game of Chicken
Following the pathway that’s least disruptive and yet simultaneously most damaging to Russia, U.S.-led sanctions are having their effect on the country.
With so many consumer technology firms pulling out of the now-toxic market, it seems a foregone conclusion that everyday Russians will experience a significant reduction in their standard of living.
The problem for BA stock is that sanctions represent a two-way street. Sure, it may be the morally appropriate action to take. However, it’s not without cost.
As I explained before the invasion, soaring consumer inflation was already putting pressure on the Biden administration. With the price of fossil fuels likely to skyrocket, the pain will almost surely worsen.
The Russians can directly retaliate through various means, such as cyberattacks and cutting off critical supplies. Therefore, BA stock is teetering on a ledge. No matter what Boeing says, a steady stream of titanium is not guaranteed at this present juncture.
Of course, Russia’s economy isn’t as diversified as other countries. Thus, cutting off exports of critical commodities will hurt its economy quite badly.
The way I see it, then, the fate of BA stock rests on a geopolitical game of chicken. Like it or not, the West needs to impose as many sanctions and penalties as possible to cripple the Russian economy before the Russians have a chance to destroy Ukraine and retaliate against the measures.
Therefore, it’s also a game of pain tolerance, which worries me. Americans being a rather spoiled bunch will probably not be able to tolerate inconveniences like the Russians. Then again, the sanctions are really kicking Moscow where it hurts.
Look to the Ruble
At last glance on the foreign currency exchange chart, $1 equated to nearly 141 Russian rubles, a terrifying reflection of inflation. Per a Bloomberg report, the ruble’s price dropped to a record low offshore. It’s not surprising. Again, the whole country has become toxic to business.
So, if I had to guess, I’d imagine that — barring some unusual circumstances — the Kremlin would have to capitulate sooner rather than later. If sanctions extend to Russian energy exports, even if only for a short period, this might pour gasoline on an inferno.
Remember, wars are expensive to finance. We might be looking at a situation akin to Wile E. Coyote in full sprint mode, only to realize that there’s no floor underneath him. Cynically, this may be the best situation that BA stock is hoping for.
Because as long as this situation sustains itself, the more likely it is — in my view — that Boeing is in for some pain. In the meantime, prospective investors will want to keep close tabs on the headlines.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.