Boeing’s profit soars as plane deliveries rise

Orders For U.S. Manufactured Goods Decline By Largest Margin In
CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 28: The Boeing logo hangs on the corporate world headquarters building of Boeing November 28, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. Orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods saw an 8.3 percent decrease in October. Aircraft orders dropped 45 percent for the same period. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Photograph by Scott Olson — Getty Images

Once again, Boeing is flying high.

The Chicago-based aerospace and defense company saw earnings continue to go up last quarter and for the whole of 2014, with a booming airline industry buying a lot of planes. This should continue into 2015, with Jefferies aerospace analyst Howard Rubel saying on CNBC that there is “still a lot of pent-up demand” for flyers, meaning the carriers will likely still be buying planes to deal with the sheer volume of people who want to fly.

What you need to know: Boeing (BA) earned $1.47 billion, or $2.02 per share, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $1.23 billion, or $1.61 per share, in the same period a year earlier. Core earnings, which exclude pension and other costs, rose to $2.31 per share from $1.88 in the prior period. This should be pleasing to investors, and Rubel said he still thinks the stock is a good buy.

The big number: What’s the thing that drove all those earnings increases? Simply selling more planes. Boeing delivered 195 planes last quarter, up from 172 in the fourth quarter of 2013. It sold 723 in the year 2014, up from 648 in 2013. Earnings from operations were up 11% for the year in the commercial airplanes sector. Boeing expects that in 2015 it will deliver between 750 and 755 planes.

What you may have missed: While the commercial airplanes side of the business was soaring, the defense side took a bit of a beating. Revenues in the sector were down 7%, and earnings from operations were down 3% for 2014. Boeing’s earnings release says this is largely due to fewer delivers of F-15 and C-17 aircraft.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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