(Adds analyst comments, forecasts, updates share price)
By Alwyn Scott
SEATTLE Jan 6 Boeing Co fell 80 planes
short of its goal for new orders in 2016, but likely clinched
the title of world's biggest planemaker for another year.
Boeing on Friday said it delivered 748 jetliners last year
and booked net orders for 668 aircraft worth about $94 billion
at list prices. Boeing had predicted orders would roughly match
deliveries, which it forecast at between 745 and 750 planes.
Boeing's delivery total likely means the Chicago-based
aerospace and defense company beat European rival Airbus
on output. Airbus has forecast at least 670 deliveries
in 2016, and is due to reports totals on Wednesday.
Investors watch orders and deliveries closely to gauge
future aircraft production levels and revenue, since airlines
make most of the payment when aircraft are delivered. Boeing
shares were up about 0.1 percent at $158.86 in mid-day trading.
Airlines have slowed their shopping for jets, especially
large widebody models, causing Boeing's "book to bill" ratio of
new sales to deliveries to fall to its lowest level since 2004.
Even so, Boeing's orders fell less than expected, suggesting
aggressive sales campaigns at year-end, analysts said. Airbus
has a price advantage thanks to the strong U.S. dollar, putting
pressure on Boeing's sales team. Looking to 2017, "it's going to
be tough for Boeing not to get more aggressive on pricing," said
Ken Herbert, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity.
Boeing's deliveries also slowed as the company began
building the new 737 MAX narrowbody at its factory in Renton,
Washington. The first MAX planes take longer to assemble than
older 737 models, and cannot be delivered until Boeing finishes
flight tests and gets government certification.
Even so, Boeing delivered two more 737s in the latest
quarter than in the same quarter of 2015. "That says something
about the production system," said Howard Rubel, analyst at
OUTPUT RISING AS SALES SLOW
Deliveries likely will rise this year as MAX planes that
welled up in inventory are delivered. But the gain will be
tempered by a 40 percent cut in production of 777 widebodies.
Analysts expect 777 deliveries will fall to 3.5 a
month in 2018, from 8.3 currently, as the successor 777X model
"What we'll be interested to hear is whether (Airbus and
Boeing) expect orders to continue to decline in 2017 at the same
time that they are raising production," said Rob Stallard,
analyst at Vertical Research Partners.
The forecasts are typically released with fourth-quarter
The final days of 2016 marked a busy time for Boeing's new
sales chief Ihssane Mounir. The sales force booked 198 net new
orders since Dec. 20, including 189 orders from unidentified
customers. The tally did not include any of its pending orders
for Iran, the company said.
The total included 194 orders worth about $21 billion at
list prices for Boeing's 737 MAX. It also included an order for
four 787 Dreamliners from Uzbekistan Airways.
Boeing had already disclosed a large part of the tally
earlier in the week, when it said it booked 80 orders for its
The new tally lifts Boeing's total backlog to 5,715
commercial jets, equivalent to about seven years of production,
the majority of which are 737 planes. Sales of more expensive
widebodies such as the 777 and 787 remain sluggish.
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and