Just in the Nick of Time for Boeing


Aircraft-manufacturing giant Boeing (NYS: BA) just landed two enormous airline deals, and they couldn't have come soon enough.

Jets, jets, and more jets
The first is with Emirates, the fast-growing Persian Gulf carrier, for 50 twin-aisle passenger aircraft. Worth a reported $18 billion, the contract for the Boeing 777 long-haul jets sets a record by value for the company.

The second is not a firm order at the moment, just a commitment, but if it goes through it will thoroughly eclipse the Emirates deal. Indonesia's Lion Air intends to buy 230 of Boeing's single-aisle 737s. If all happens as planned, the order will be worth $21.7 billion.

Just in the nick of time
It's not like Boeing is in danger of going out of business, but it needed these deals. The company has been trailing its rival Airbus for the better part of 2011. In the first nine months of the year, Airbus has announced 1,038 orders for new aircraft versus Boeing's 426.

And in potentially even better news for Boeing, Emirates has taken out options on 20 more 777s, which would bring the order's total value to $26 billion. Lion Air has also optioned for another 150 737s, which would bring the total potential value for that deal to $35.7 billion.

Warm up those rivet guns
Third-quarter results for Boeing were actually pretty encouraging:

  • Revenue is up a decent 4% from the same quarter last year.

  • Net income is up a staggering 31% (but we know this is a cyclical business).

  • EPS has increased a very nice 30%, from $1.12 to $1.46, and the company has increased guidance for the year from $4.30 to $4.40.

  • The company holds $9.2 billion in cash and marketable securities, which provides strong liquidity.

Also in the good news department: The company has $332 billion in orders on backlog, up from $323 billion at the beginning of the quarter. And that doesn't even count these two new monster deals. That's a lot of flaps, rivets, and ailerons.

The right stuff
Boeing's stock is trading for about $67 per share, with a P/E of just under 14. Peers Lockheed Martin (NYS: LMT) , Northrop Grumman (NYS: NOC) , and General Dynamics (NYS: GD) all currently have P/Es below 10, but aren't the best comparisons as budget-cut fears have beaten down the more pure-play defense stocks. United Technologies (NYS: UTX) , however, is well diversified beyond defense, like Boeing. United Technologies' P/E is currently 14.

In short, Boeing is looking good as an investment right now, in both absolute and relative terms. And with these big, new aircraft orders just jumping out of the woodwork, it's a stock worth watching. To follow Boeing, or any of the other companies mentioned here, add them to My Watchlist, a free service of The Motley Fool that makes it easy to keep up with all the stocks on your investing radar.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor and ex-flight instructor John Grgurich dreams he flew Boeing 777s and not Cessna-152s back in the day, but he owns no shares of any of the companies listed in this column. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has an absolutely scintillating disclosure policy.

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