Boeing, feeling the positive effects of higher commercial aircraft delivery rates, posted earnings Wednesday of $923 million, or $1.22 a share, up 58 percent over last year’s first quarter totals.
The higher earnings came on revenues of $19.4 billion, up from $14.9 billion in 2011’s first quarter.
“Strong core operating performance from our production programs and services business continues to drive expanded earnings, revenue and cash flow for Boeing,” said Jim McNerney, the company’s chairman.
Propelling those higher revenues and earnings were a 32 percent increase in deliveries from the company’s Puget Sound-based Commercial Airplanes Group. Airliner deliveries in the first quarter rose 32 percent to 137 aircraft. Revenues jumped 54 percent to $10.9 billion for the commercial airplanes operation.
Boeing has increased production rates on all its aircraft lines in recent months and plans to dial up that production pace even more in the next year or two. The company also began deliveries last year of two long-delayed new aircraft, the 747-8 and the 787 Dreamliner. Those deliveries continued through the first quarter.
Meanwhile the company’s order book for new jetliners grew dramatically in the first quarter with 412 new orders, including more than 300 of its new 737 Max alone. Boeing’s defense division also booked a big order for 84 F-15 fighters from Saudi Arabia during the year’s first three months.
Those orders and deliveries raised the company’s forecast for yearly per-share profits to between $4.15 and $4.35 for 2012.
Even as production rose, so did the company’s operating margins. In the commercial airplanes sector, operating margins increased from 7.2 percent in the first quarter of last year to 9.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. In defense, space and security, the margins hit 9 percent, up from 8.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011.
In addition to the big Saudi fighter order, the company’s defense, space and security division booked more orders for the C-17 military transport and delivered its first production P-8A Poseidon to the Navy.
The Poseidon is built in Renton in a separate assembly line from the company’s 737 commercial jets. The Poseidon is a militarized version of the 737 jetliner equipped with sensors to detect and kill submarines.
Backlogs in both major Boeing divisions increased handsomely in the quarter. In the defense division, the backlog reached $72 billion, up 20 percent. In the commercial division backlog increased to $308 billion.
John Gillie: 253-597-8563 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/business