Boeing reports record revenue, earnings but 2014 forecast disappoints

Boeing assembles the 787 Dreamliner at its factory in North Charleston.

Boeing Co. ended 2013 with record revenue and profit, but its outlook for this year fell short of projections.

The results and forecast were released Wednesday as the company's North Charleston 787 campus remained closed because of the ice storm.

Boeing reported revenue of $23.8 billion for the fourth quarter, an increase of almost 7 percent from the year-earlier period. Earnings were $1.23 billion, up 26 percent. For all of 2013, revenue climbed 6 percent to $86.6 billion, while earnings increased 18 percent to $4.6 billion.

"Strong fourth-quarter results underscored an outstanding full year of core operating performance that drove record revenue and earnings and increased returns to shareholders," CEO Jim McNerney said.

The company's conservative guidance for 2014, mostly involving its defense unit, disappointed. It projected revenue of between $87.5 billion and $90.5 billion and a per-share profit range of $7 to $7.20. Analysts polled by FactSet expected more: earnings of $7.53 per share and revenue of $97.2 billion. Shares of Boeing tumbled.

This year, the company projected its commercial airplane deliveries of between 715 and 725, or 10 percent more than 2013. About 110 of those are expected to be 787s assembled in North Charleston and Everett, Wash.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes booked 465 orders during the last quarter of 2013. Fourth-quarter revenue for the division rose to $14.7 billion and full-year revenue increased to a record $53 billion on a record 648 deliveries. Boeing has a backlog of 5,080 airplanes valued at $374 billion.

As for the reliability issues with the 787, McNerney said they are being addressed. "There is more work to do on that, but we are moving closer to the goal line," he said.

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Boeing will continue to ramp up production of the Dreamliner, McNerney added. The company recently announced a surge of temporary workers in North Charleston to meet companywide production goals for the airplane. That number will climb to 14 jets a month in 2019.

Last year, the Dreamliner program completed the first 787-9 flight, launched the 787-10 and began operating at a 10-a-month production rate in final assembly. Also, the 737 program delivered at a record rate of 38 a month and has picked up 1,800 orders for the 737 MAX.

"Our commercial airplanes business accelerated delivery of its record backlog by successfully increasing production rates while also achieving important development milestones on the 737 MAX and 787-9 and launching the new 787-10 and 777X models with an unprecedented customer response," McNerney said.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or