Odds and Ends: Boeing stock buyback; Charging suppliers for doing business; AA+US

Boeing Stock Buyback: Boeing announced a stock buyback of #3.6bn for next year. Wells Fargo has this to say in a research note issued today:

Boeing had more than $11B of cash on the balance sheet at the end of September, and after free cash flow of $5.7B in 2013 and more than $7B in 2014 (i.e., almost $10/share in free cash), we believe Boeing could have over $20B in cash available to return to shareholders over the next few years. This is why we see about a $130MM increase in dividends and a $1.5-2.0B buyback in 2013 as small steps in returning cash to shareholders.

We’re not a fan of buybacks, which serve to prop up stock prices. We believe stock should rise on its own merits, not because of some artificial prop-up. More to the point, however, is that Boeing has a hard time telling SPEEA it needs to cut costs when it is spending billions on buybacks that benefit (among others) Boeing’s largest shareholders–the McDonnell family, Harry Stonecipher and Jim McNerney.

SPEEA is preparing for a strike February 1. Talks resume January 9, but the gulf between the two sides is so great, SPEEA expects them to break down almost immediately.

With Wells Fargo estimating that Boeing might return $20bn to shareholders in the next few years, we somehow think this will be an issue when IAM contract negotiations come up in 2016 and Boeing pleads poverty again (as it inevitably will).

We’d much rather see the money invested in new airplane programs rather than derivatives like the 737 MAX and 777X.

Boeing charges royalties to suppliers: Mary Kirby has this interesting story about Boeing charging suppliers for the price of doing business with the company.

American and US Airways: The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has this column discussing the case for a merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

Pegasus Buys Airbus: Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines ordered 75 A320neo family and optioned 25 more. The carrier was previously a Boeing 737 operator. Deliveries are from 2015, which means the Pratt & Whitney GTF has to be the engine choice, which is as yet unannounced. CFM’s LEAP-1A won’t be ready until later in 2016.

Before this order, Airbus had a 61% market share of the re-engine order race vs the 737 MAX (firm orders only).

Photo Montage: The Everett Herald has this photo montage of the Flying Heritage Museum’s aircraft. The Museum is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Freighter Market Softens: Cargo Facts has this analysis of the freighter market.