UPDATE 4-Boeing beats 2nd-qtr profit estimates, raises forecast
* Boeing Q2 EPS $1.27 vs Wall Street view $1.12 * Revenue $20.0 bln vs analyst view $19.4 bln * Higher plane deliveries, defense sales boost profit * Shares up 2.4 pct By Bill Rigby SEATTLE, July 25 (Reuters) - Boeing Co reported a greater-than-expected 3 percent increase in second-quarter profit and raised its full-year earnings forecast on Wednesday as rising airplane deliveries and defense sales offset higher pension costs. The planemaker and defense contractor is rapidly ramping up production to meet growing demand for new, fuel-efficient planes and is set to overtake rival Airbus in plane deliveries this year. At the same time, it is weathering cuts in U.S. defense spending. "This was a good quarter from Boeing," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Stallard. "Where Boeing has arguably beaten is on defense, where expectations have been understandably low." Its shares rose 2.3 percent in midday trading, edging into positive territory for the year. Boeing sought to restrain Wall Street enthusiasm however, with Chief Executive Jim McNerney warning that "global economic growth continues at a slow pace (and) uncertainties remain," in a slide presentation for financial analysts. The Chicago-based company said quarterly profit increased to $967 million, or $1.27 per share, from $941 million, or $1.25 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Wall Street expected earnings of $1.12 a share, on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue jumped 21 percent to $20 billion, boosted by commercial aircraft and military sales, topping analysts' average estimate of $19.4 billion. Boeing's commercial plane unit, based in the Seattle area, reported a 34 percent increase in sales to $11.8 billion, while defense unit sales were up 7 percent to $8.2 billion, surprising some on Wall Street who had played down prospects for growth as the Pentagon slashes budgets. Leading U.S. defense contractors Lockheed Martin Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp also reported better-than-expected earnings and raised full-year forecasts this week. The gains in both of Boeing's main units offset a 52 percent jump in pension costs to $593 million. ON TRACK FOR NO. 1 SPOT Boeing delivered 150 commercial planes in the quarter, up from 118 a year ago -- a key number for profit as most of the payments from a customer come on delivery. Boeing is speeding up production of all its major models and is now delivering its new carbon-fiber 787 Dreamliner to customers after years of delays. With higher deliveries and resilient defense sales, Boeing raised its forecast for full-year earnings to $4.40 to $4.60 per share, up from a range of $4.15 to $4.35. That is in line with the $4.56 per share that analysts' expect. The company stood by its forecast to deliver a record 585 to 600 commercial planes this year. Airbus, which has led the market in deliveries for the past few years, is targeting 570 commercial deliveries for 2012. Its parent EADS is due to report its own earnings on Friday. Boeing also expects to win the annual order race for the first time since 2006 as it catches up with demand for revamped medium-haul jets. Former Boeing commercial chief Jim Albaugh last month predicted 1,000 total jetliner sales in 2012, compared with Airbus' target of 600-650. The U.S. planemaker took a large step in that direction on Wednesday, as Aeromexico announced an $11 billion commitment to buy 90 737s and 10 787s. Boeing shares rose 2.3 percent to $73.68 on the New York Stock Exchange. At Tuesday's close, the shares were down almost 2 percent so far this year, compared with a 2 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's aerospace index and 6 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
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