The share price of The Boeing Company (BA - Free Report) dropped 1.3% on Monday under the shadow of the vanished Malaysian 777 jet and production issues resurfacing yet again with the 787 Dreamliner. Notably, Boeing’s share prices are down more than 12% from its 52-week high of $144.57.
On Mar 7, Boeing announced that about 40 of its 787 Dreamliners were found with possible hairline fractures in the wings on the production line following a change in a supplier’s manufacturing process. The fallout of a manufacturing defect by Boeing’s wing manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Inc. of Japan, could further delay production of the 787 Dreamliner and hit Boeing’s first-quarter 787 delivery target. Yet, its 2014 delivery guidance of 110 jets is not expected to be impacted.
To Boeing’s huge relief, the defect in the 787 planes has been noted before delivery to clients and the hairline cracks have not been found in the planes in use.
The much-hyped 787 Dreamliner was marred by glitches from the very beginning. Following its delayed launch, the two battery overheating incidents in Jan 2013 grounded the entire fleet of 50 Boeing 787 airplanes. However, in Apr 2013, Boeing received the green light from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for the 787 Dreamliner’s redesigned battery.
Although the aerospace behemoth has been trying to iron out wrinkles from its troubled 787 Dreamliner plane, it seems that for each effort, more creases are popping out in its place. Many industry pundits attribute these repeated failures to the 787’s flawed manufacturing process.
Coming back to the most recent tragedy, Malaysia Airlines’ Flight 370, a Boeing 777 aircraft, disappeared en route to Beijing on Mar 8 with 239 people on board. With still no information after three days of the crash, the possible causes remain elusive. The Boeing 777 aircraft is considered one of the company’s most popular and top-selling wide-body jets with a flawless safety record. In its 19 years of service, the plane met with only one critical accident. Last year, the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco has been blamed for pilot error.
This said, the fact remains that this aerospace and defense leader is flying high on the back of rising demand for its new fuel-efficient commercial planes. It reported record jet deliveries in 2013, beating its own projection, driven by strong commercial numbers. The heightened deliveries were also a function of an increased production rate.
The solid performance of the company through 2013 is also reflected in its traded price. Boeing’s share price closed at $136.49 on Dec 31, reflecting a gain of 81.2% over the twelve-month period. Having said that, its share price is down 6.6% since the start of 2014.
Boeing presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). There are other companies in the sector that appear more promising and are worth accumulating now. These are Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (HII - Free Report) , and Zacks Ranked #2 (Buy) Embraer S.A. (ERJ - Free Report) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC - Free Report) .