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On Nov 14, 2013, the shares of The Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report) hit a 52-week high of $135.38. Boeing registered positive earnings surprises in the last four quarters, with an average beat of 11.96%.

Why the Bullishness?

Despite the machinists’ union overwhelmingly refusing a new labor contract recently pertaining to 777 production and manufacturing jobs, the future of the aerospace giant seems to be robust. Backlog at third quarter 2013 end remained strong with more than 4,800 airplanes valued at a record $345 billion.

Boeing also estimates that carriers in the Middle East will need 2,610 new airplanes over the next 20 years, worth a staggering $550 billion. The Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner will likely continue to dominate the order books in the Gulf region, reflecting the global network priorities and emerging alliances and partnerships of the region's carriers.

Last month, the company reported stellar third quarter 2013 results on the back of a solid performance across the company's businesses. The company’s strong numbers came from solid operating performance fueled by higher aircraft deliveries along with customer-focused business strategies and disciplined execution.

Boeing also boosted its full-year 2013 GAAP earnings guidance to the range of $5.40–$5.55 from its previous expectation of $5.10–$5.30. The adjusted earnings guidance was raised to $6.50–$6.65 per share from $6.20–$6.40 earlier.

Although the threat of defense cutbacks will loom over the company going forward, Boeing still remains optimistic with a 2013 defense revenue target of $31.5 billion to $32.5 billion and an operating margin of more than 9.25%.

Despite the many technical glitches plaguing the much-hyped Dreamliner, the company remains well on track with its backlog and deliveries. During the third quarter, its commercial unit completed the first flight of the 787-9 and delivered 170 airplanes. Sequestration and budget cut notwithstanding, its defense segment maintained a solid performance and fetched $7 billion in fresh new orders.

The expected long-term earnings growth rate for the company is set at 10.93% while the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 reflects an estimated 34.1% jump to $6.71 from $5.00 in 2012.

Zacks Rank

Boeing currently holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). One can also look at Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT - Analyst Report), Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC - Analyst Report) and Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (HII - Snapshot Report) as good buying opportunities. These defense operators – sporting a comparable Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) – have solid growth stories with the potential to rise significantly from current levels.

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