Ready to Take Off Again

09/30/2010 3:12 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

Shares of Boeing (NYSE: BA) went through their own little correction even as the stock market has rallied, and now they’re in their own little rally while the market in general has stalled.

That’s set up an opportunity to buy this stock for the eventual good news about its product cycle while getting paid a yield of 2.55%, just below the 2.65% yield on a ten-year Treasury.
Boeing’s shares are down 5.4% as of September 29 from their price on August 2.

You don’t have to look very hard for a reason for the drop: Another setback for Boeing’s oft-delayed 787 Dreamliner. On August 27, the company announced it would push back the delivery of its first 787 to the first quarter of 2011 from the fourth quarter of 2010 because of a little problem with the Trent 1000 Rolls-Royce engine that is to power the 50% carbon-fiber composite plane. (A Trent 1000 blew up in testing, causing the closing of the test facility.) At the time of Boeing’s announcement, the 787 was already two years behind schedule.

Often when a product slips that badly, competitors bring out products that leapfrog the delayed product, making its late introduction fatal. That hasn’t happened to Boeing in this case, however, because its competitor in the current duopoly for long-range commercial jet airliners, Airbus, expects its new A350, the competitor to the 787, to go into service in 2013. That target may be as liable to slippage as Boeing’s, because the first A350 isn’t scheduled to roll off the assembly line until 2011.

Whenever the 787 arrives, it will meet a huge order book, because the plane’s high carbon-fiber content enables it to offer a 15% reduction in fuel costs. Boeing has 877 orders at $150 million to $206 million per plane.

While the company is waiting for Godot, it’s been happily accelerating its production of the workhorse, single-aisle 737. The most recent increase—the fourth since the end of the recession—would increase production to 38 a month in 2013 from 35 a month in 2012 and the current 31.5 rate of production.

All this could well make 2011 very profitable for Boeing, but turn the second half of 2010 into a “lost two quarters” for the company.

Standard & Poor’s forecasts that Boeing will show negative cash flow in 2010 as it continues to gear up for the 787, but doesn’t take in any revenue. The analysts at S&P see earnings per share dropping sequentially in the third quarter of 2010 from the second quarter before rebounding in the fourth quarter to finish even with second-quarter 2010 earnings.

I think the upside on these shares is about $83 in a year—but that target price is certainly subject to delay. And that’s why the current 2.55% yield is so important. If the price appreciation on the shares is delayed by yet more production problems, you’ll still collect that yield while you wait. I’d like to get a yield of at least 2.5% while I wait, so I’d like to buy these shares at $67.20 or less. (It changed hands at around $66.60 late Thursday.)

I’m adding these shares to Jubak’s Picks as of September 30, with a target price of $83 a share by September 2011. (My buy of Boeing also fits with my read that at this stage in the economic cycle, I’d rather be in capital goods than consumer stocks. For more on that, see this post.)

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any company mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio.

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