Is It Too Early to Rejoice in Boeing's $95 billion Landing?

Is It Too Early to Rejoice in Boeing's $95 billion Landing?

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Boeing had an outstanding takeoff Monday morning, soaring more than 4% to hit a new high of $142 on a record-breaking launch of its much-awaited new jetliner, the 777X.

So what: While most of us were enjoying a lazy Sunday, Boeing was busy making history at the 2013 Dubai Airshow. It launched its new twin-engine, twin-aisle 777X jetliner to a record 259 orders from four major customers: Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Lufthansa. With the combined value of the orders crossing $95 billion, it looks like Boeing has a winner. Small wonder, then, that Boeing shares were flying into space after the news broke this morning.

Now what: The 777X's groundbreaking entry could just be a glimpse of what's to come. The jetliner is packed with powerful features that could make rivals squirm. For starters, the 777X will be powered by General Electric's new GE9X engine. In GE's own words, it's the most fuel-efficient and the quietest engine the company has ever produced. The advanced engine, combined with longer-span aircraft wings, makes the 777X 12% more fuel efficient than any other aircraft produced by its competitors. Resized windows and more spacious interiors are just some of the added features on the new passenger jet.

OK, the 777X does look like a game changer for Boeing. But wasn't that what everyone called the 787 Dreamliner when it was unveiled in 2004? Didn't Boeing get record numbers of orders for the 787 on its first day of launch, much like the 777X? And wasn't the 787 also the company's "most successful twin-aisle launch" ever at that time? Unfortunately, ever since its launch nearly two years ago, the 787 Dreamliner has hit headlines for all the wrong reasons.

No, I'm not crystal-ball gazing into 2020 (expected delivery date for the first 777X) to say that the new aircraft could also land itself in the soup. I certainly wouldn't want it to, but I hope that Boeing has learned its lessons well from the 787 missteps. More importantly, I hope the 777X doesn't face the production delays and cost overruns that the 787 did, because the aerospace giant still has an uphill task of finalizing the production spot for its new jetliner. Boeing's talks with its largest workers union in Washington state hit a roadblock last week when the union rejected a new contract extension proposal. Boeing will need to sweeten its contract if it still wants to build the 777X out of Washington, or start looking for some other place. This is a critical issue that investors need to keep an eye on, because any slipup could put the 777X, and the Boeing stock, in a spot of trouble.

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