Boeing narrows fourth-quarter loss on increasing deliveries

Planemaker's sales surged 3.3% to $14.7bn in three months to December 31

Boeing’s full 2021 financial year’s revenue increased almost 7 per cent to $62.3 billion. AFP

Boeing narrowed its net loss 50.6 per cent to $4.1 billion in the fourth quarter from a $8.4bn loss in the same period a year ago as delivery of commercial planes increased in the three months to December 31.

The US firm delivered 99 commercial planes in the October-December period, up 68 per cent from the prior year period.

2021 was a rebuilding year for us as we overcame hurdles and reached key milestones across our commercial, defence and services portfolios
Boeing’s president and chief executive David Calhoun

The quarterly sales of the company dropped almost 3.3 per cent on an annual basis to $14.7bn, falling short of analysts’ estimates of $16.5bn.

The company’s full 2021 financial year’s net loss stood at more than $4.2bn, while revenue increased almost 7 per cent to $62.3bn.

“2021 was a rebuilding year for us as we overcame hurdles and reached key milestones across our commercial, defence and services portfolios,” Boeing’s president and chief executive David Calhoun said.

“As the commercial market recovery gained traction, we also generated robust commercial orders, including record freighter sales … demonstrating progress in our overall recovery, we also returned to generating positive cash flow in the fourth quarter.”

The company said its operating cash flow improved to $716 million in the quarter, reflecting higher commercial volume, increased advance payments and lower expenditures.

Boeing’s cash and investments in marketable securities decreased to $16.2bn in the fourth quarter, compared to $20bn at the beginning of October. The debt stood at $58.1bn, down from $62.4bn at the beginning of the quarter due to the prepayment of a term loan and repayment of maturing debt, the company said.

Sales for Boeing’s commercial plane unit stood flat on an annual basis to about $4.8bn in the three months to December 31. Backlog in commercial planes included more than 4,200 aircraft valued at $297bn, the company said.

Boeing said it had increased 737 Max production and deliveries in the quarter and safely returned the aircraft to service in nearly all global markets.

A Boeing 737 Max lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. The company said it is making progress on the global safe return to service of the 737 Max. Reuters

In December, the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued an airworthiness directive outlining changes required for Chinese airlines to prepare their fleets to resume service.

Since the US Federal Aviation Administration’s approval for the return of the 737 Max to operations in November 2020, more than 300,000 revenue flights have been completed and the reliability of the fleet remains above 99 per cent as of January 24, the company said.

Revenue from the defence, space and security unit decreased 14 per cent to $5.8bn in the fourth quarter.

The global services unit’s revenue increased 15 per cent yearly to $4.3bn in the last quarter. The company’s fourth-quarter operating margin, which was negatively affected by a $220m inventory impairment, increased to 9.3 per cent.

Boeing is facing an increase in expenses in its 787 Dreamliner programme, with $5.5bn in costs tied to manufacturing flaws that have prevented the company from delivering new planes in recent months.

It also took a $3.5bn pre-tax charge for the fourth quarter on its 787 Dreamliners.

“On the 787 programme, we are progressing through a comprehensive effort to ensure every aeroplane in our production system conforms to our exacting specifications,” Mr Calhoun said.

“While this continues to impact our near-term results, it is the right approach to building stability and predictability as demand returns for the long term.”

The company’s research and development expenditure jumped by more than 12 per cent year-on-year in the quarter to $678m, the company said in the statement.

Updated: January 27, 2022, 5:40 AM