An analyst upgraded his earnings outlook for Boeing Co. on Monday, citing steps by the aircraft manufacturer to hike production of certain aircraft models and the likelihood of lower research and development costs.
J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Nadol upgraded the Chicago-based company to "Overweight" from "Neutral." He also raised his price target on the stock to $83 a share from $80.
Nadol said the outlook for Boeing company's commercial aircraft business continues to improve, given recent signals by the company that it is increasing production rate of aircraft models such as its 777.
Last fall, Boeing announced it would start making 38 planes every month, up from a planned 35 a month, in the second quarter of 2013. It currently makes about one plane a day.
The aircraft giant is counting on continued growth in the global economy to justify the higher production rates, particularly from emerging markets that are now responsible for more than half of global aircraft deliveries, Nadol said.
The analyst sees the potential for more 777 aircraft orders as the economy recovers. Demand for the aircraft picked up last year as estimated net orders reached 62, up from 19 the year before, Nadol noted.
The aircraft has an established role in long-haul business travel as well as freight traffic.
Factoring in all production rate hikes, Nadol sees the installed base of aircraft seats growing at about 5 percent a year over the next five years, in line with expected global traffic growth.
On the defense business front, Nadol says Boeing has already seen large declines in earnings from missile defense, future combat systems, reconnaissance satellites and C-17 aircraft.
He is forecasting that defense will account for 30 percent of the company's earnings per share in 2013.
Meanwhile, Nadol anticipates Boeing will slash commercial aircraft research and development costs to around $2.1 billion by 2012. That should help boost earnings, he said.
In addition, Nadol anticipates cash flow to exceed Boeing's earnings in coming years as the company burns off costs related to its 787 aircraft program.
All told, Nadol raised his estimate for Boeing's full-year earnings per share by 5 cents to $4.40 and his 2012 forecast by 15 cents to $5.50, to reflect lower pension expenses. For 2013, the analyst projects earnings per share will be $6.35, up 15 percent from 2012.
Boeing shares added $1.13 to $66.39 in afternoon trading Monday. Shares have traded between $54.05 and $76 the past 12 months.
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