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Boeing Posts Quarterly, Full-Year Loss on 737 Max

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Boeing Co. today reported a fourth-quarter loss and its first full-year loss since 1997 as the financial impact of the 737 Max crisis expanded.

In the fourth quarter, the aircraft maker posted a loss of $1.01 billion, or $1.79 a share. That compared to a year-earlier profit of $3.42 billion, or $5.93 a share.

Boeing had a quarterly operating loss of $2.2 billion for the period, compared with a $4.18 billion operating profit in 2018’s fourth quarter. The company said its “core” operating loss, which excludes some costs, totaled $2.53 billion, or $2.33 a share. The “core” figure is followed by financial analysts.

The 737 Max, one of the company’s most important products, has been grounded for almost a year. That took place following two crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing has stopped 737 Max production while it works with regulators to get approval for the 737 Max to return to the air.

During the fourth quarter, commercial aircraft deliveries plunged 67 percent to 79 aircraft, compared with 238 a year earlier. Company revenue declined 37 percent to $17.9 billion.

The company said it had $2.6 billion in pretax costs because of the 737 Max in the fourth quarter. Boeing said it expects to incur about $4 billion in additional 737 Max-related costs, mostly in 2020. The aircraft maker said Jan. 21 it expects the 737 Max to return to service around mid-year.

For all of 2019, Boeing posted a loss of $636 million, or $1.12 a share. Its operating loss for the year was $1.98 billion and its “core” operating loss was $3.39 billion, or $3.47 a share. Full-year revenue slid 24 percent to $76.6 billion. Commercial aircraft deliveries for the year totaled 380, down from 806 in 2018.

The 737 Max crisis prompted Boeing’s board to fire CEO Dennis Muilenburg last month. During testimony before two Congressional panels in October, Muilenburg was criticized for his performance in dealing with the 737 Max.

David Calhoun, who had been a board member, was installed as the new CEO and he took command on Jan. 13. Also this month, Boeing released internal messages showing employees criticizing their own company about the 737 Max. One 2017 message said that the aircraft was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” according to Reuters.

“We recognize we have a lot of work to do,” Calhoun said in a statement that was part of the earnings report. “We are focused on returning the 737 Max to service safely and restoring the long-standing trust that the Boeing brand represents with the flying public.”

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