Boeing profit tops forecasts, airplane deliveries rise

Boeing Co. delivered more airliners in the first quarter, offsetting sluggish results in the defense side of its business and pushing its first-quarter earnings up 38 percent.

The profit topped Wall Street expectations, but revenue was below forecasts.

Boeing's commercial-planes business is soaring as airlines use some of their record profits to buy new, more fuel-efficient jets. Company executives have recently brushed aside concern that falling oil prices could undercut demand for new jets from Boeing and European rival Airbus Group N.V.

Boeing delivered 184 airliners in the quarter, up from 161 in the same period last year, with two-thirds of them for the venerable 737 jet, a workhorse on short and mid-range routes around the world.

Meanwhile, orders minus cancelations rose by a net of 110 in the quarter, and Boeing now has 5,700 orders on its books. About half are for an upcoming version of the 737. The backlog is valued at $495 billion.

The Chicago-based company said Wednesday that net income rose to $1.34 billion, or $1.87 per share. Excluding $113 million in pension expenses, the company said adjusted profit was $1.97 per share — beating the $1.81 per share forecast by analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research. A year earlier, adjusted profit was $1.76 per share.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $22.15 billion. However, six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $22.63 billion.

The company reaffirmed its forecast for full-year earnings in the range of $8.20 to $8.40 per share and revenue between $94.5 billion and $96.5 billion.

Like recent quarters, it was a tale of Boeing's two very different business segments:

— Earnings from commercial airplanes rose 8 percent on a 21 percent jump in revenue. That segment accounted for two-thirds of profit and sales.

— The defense and space business declined, with earnings down 4 percent and revenue off by 12 percent, as tight defense budgets cut into sales.

In trading ahead of the opening bell, Boeing shares were down $1.05 to $152.28. At the end of trading on Tuesday, they were up 18 percent so far in 2015, compared with about a 2 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. The shares have risen 20 percent in the last 12 months.

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