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International commercial airplane manufacturer, The Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report) announced deliveries across its commercial and defense operations for the fourth quarter and full year 2012.

In the commercial space, the company delivered 165 airplanes in fourth-quarter 2012 compared with 128 in the prior-year quarter. Majority of the airplanes distributed during the three months were of the 737 family.

The 737 model continues to be a major pillar of Boeing’s strength in the commercial airplane sector. Steady demand for this model is primarily driven by its fuel efficiency and lower operating costs compared with other competing models.

In fourth-quarter 2012, the delivery of Boeing’s 787 model rose sharply to 23 from 2 in the year-ago quarter as the company finally coped up with the technical snags, which were delaying the production process.

The company delivered 21 units of the 777 model in fourth quarter 2012 compared with 22 in the year-ago quarter.

Boeing delivered 601 airplanes in full-year 2012, up 26% year over year from 477. The significant rise in total commercial airplane delivery was primarily driven by growth in the number of deliveries across all Commercial Airplanes Programs.

In full-year 2012, Boeing delivered 415 units of 737, 83 units of 777, 46 units of 787, 31 units of 747 and 26 units of 767 airplanes.

As far as deliveries under the Defense, Space and Security Programs are concerned, the company supplied 12 units of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G fighter jets and 11 units of Chinook helicopters in fourth-quarter 2012. In full-year 2012, the company delivered 51 units of Chinook helicopters and 48 units of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G fighter jets. A few days ago, the company received an $895 million order from the U.S. Air Force for upgrading the military transport aircraft, C-17 Globemaster.

Riding on strong deliveries of 737, 777 and 787 models, Boeing has successfully beaten the upper-end of its previously announced full-year 2012 commercial airplanes deliveries guidance of 585 – 600.

Boeing’s closest international peer in the commercial airplane market is France-based Airbus. Year-to-date, Airbus has delivered 516 airplanes, lower than Boeing’s delivery sheet. Boeing benefited from big orders from Lion Air, United Airlines and Norwegian Airlines.

Boeing expects commercial airplane demand to improve substantially over the next two decades riding on the back of a recovering world economy and strong demand for fleet addition and replacement by major airline operators. The company expects delivery of 34,000 commercial airplanes in the next 20 years, valued at a considerable $4.5 trillion.

Boeing had strong commercial airplanes backlog with 4,100 airplanes valued at approximately $307 billion as of September 30, 2012. The company tries to lower its backlog by increasing its pace of production.

However, we are skeptical about the global airline industry headwinds along with the impact of the U.S. defense budget cutbacks.

Chicago-based Boeing Company is a premier jet aircraft manufacturer and one of the largest defense contractors in the U.S. The company and its peer Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT - Analyst Report) have a short-term Zacks#3 Rank (Hold).

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