By Alan Murray and David Meyer
April 25, 2019

Good morning.

Boeing reported yesterday that its earnings fell 21% in the first three months of the year after the grounding of its 737 Max jet, following two fatal crashes. The company backed off its earnings guidance for the year, and suspended its share repurchase program. “Due to the uncertainty of the timing and conditions surrounding return to service of the 737 Max fleet, new guidance will be issued at a future date,” it said. United CEO Oscar Munoz separately said he has “no sense” when the planes will start to fly again.

Shareholders brushed off the bad news. But I suspect things are at Boeing are going to get worse before they get better.

The company has had little to say about a report in the New York Times this weekend detailing problems at a production plant in South Carolina that produces a separate plane, the Dreamliner. That plane has an exemplary safety record. But the Times‘ reporting highlights quality control problems at the plant that were ignored by managers pushing to prevent production delays.

CEO Daily readers can be forgiven for thinking the New York Times too often takes a reflexive anti-business view. And in the age of Trump, Boeing officials may believe they can brush off the story by dismissing it as “fake news.” But I find the reporting pretty compelling. Its implication is that the company has something of a Wells Fargo problem: It has been pushing so hard to overcome production delays—and incentivizing managers to follow suit—that its historic concern with quality and safety may have been pushed to the back seat.

I’d particularly recommend the account of one whistleblower that the paper highlighted in its regular podcast, The Daily. You can listen to it here. It’s a pretty compelling tale. Boeing continues to say that it always puts safety first. But I think the company has a lot of work to do before it earns back the trust of the flying public.

More news below. And be sure to read Fortune tech guru Adam Lashinsky’s fresh take on Disney’s bold pivot to streaming services, which you can read here.

Alan Murray


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