Boeing Earnings Jump 58% in First Quarter

Demand for the new 737 MAX help boost orders.

Earnings at U.S. aircraft giant Boeing Co. (IW 500/15) surged a strong 58% in the first quarter, the company reported Wednesday, as sales of commercial planes continued to grow despite the weak global economy.

Net income rose to $923 million, up from $586 million a year earlier, while earnings per share hit $1.23, up from 79 cents, easily beating analyst forecasts.

Revenues rose 30% to $19.4 billion, with commercial aircraft sales at $10.9 billion, up 54% from a year earlier.

The aerospace and defense company delivered 137 commercial aircraft in the quarter, compared with 104 a year ago.

Helped by orders for the new 737 MAX and a contract to supply 84 F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, Boeing's backlog of aircraft orders hit $380 billion.

The company racked up $42 billion in new orders during the January-March 2012 period.

Despite a slowdown in U.S. defense and space spending, the company's defense, space and security divisions saw revenues rise 8.1% to $8.2 billion.

Earnings also got a boost from a reduction of the company's reserves for anticipated legal costs, which added 11 cents to earnings per share, Boeing said.

"Strong core operating performance from our production programs and services businesses continues to drive expanded earnings, revenue and cash flow for Boeing," said chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney.

He called the outlook for the coming year "positive" and Boeing boosted its profits forecast to $4.15 to $4.35 a share, helped both by an improved sales outlook and the benefits from the drop in the litigation reserves.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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