Airbus Takes Aim at Boeing

U.S. stocks are little changed his morning as the Federal Open Market Committee's June policy meeting gets under way. The S&P 500 and the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.29% and 0.42%, respectively, at 10:15 a.m. EDT.

The macro view: Inflation Tuesday
And speaking of Fed policy, Consumer Price Index data for the month of May was released this morning. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers -- the most popular measure of inflation -- rose by 0.1% last month on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Stripping out food and energy, the core inflation index rose 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising just 0.1% during each of the prior two months. Year on year, the core index is up 1.7% (unadjusted) -- close to the Fed's 2% inflation target. These results help dispel the fear of disinflation or deflation, thereby diminishing one obstacle to the "tapering" of the Fed's bond-buying program. Of course, we should know more about which way the Fed is leaning on this issue following the conclusion of the FOMC meeting tomorrow.

The micro view: Airbus vs. Boeing
Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier is showing a bit of swagger. First, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said he expected the company to raise its operating profit margin to 10% by 2015.

He then followed up with an interview with the Financial Times yesterday in which he took direct aim at his competitor, Dow component Boeing , saying he sees "no reason why [Airbus] would not expect - if we continue to do a good job -- to lead [the market for wide-body, twin-engine aircraft]."

Although Airbus' A-350 is 18 months behind its original schedule, Bregier is increasingly confident the company will deliver the plane to its first customer by mid-2014, in line with its revised timeline. Three versions of the A-350 will go head to head with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

As far as investors are concerned, one area in which Airbus has an advantage over Boeing is valuation: The shares of Airbus parent EADS NV trade for just less than 13 times the next 12 months' earnings-per-share estimate, versus 15.1 for Boeing. In truth, however, neither of these blue-chips looks particularly attractive at this time. Investors would probably do just as well to put their money in an index fund.

Boeing is a major player in a multi-trillion-dollar market in which the opportunities are massive. However, emerging competitors and the company's execution problems have investors wondering whether Boeing will live up to its shareholder responsibilities. The Fool's premium research report on the company provides investors with the must-know info on Boeing. They'll be updating the report as key news hits, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy today.

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