Boeing rolled out Ray Conner, the new CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, to analysts in New York yesterday. The first research note we’ve received, from Imperial Capital’s Ken Herbert, portrayed a positive meeting. Below is a synopsis. As we receive more notes, we’ll add those comments.
We don’t like the resumed policy of using cash to repurchase stock, instead of putting it into new airplane programs (something Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group, normally a pro-Boeing consultant, has roundly criticized for years).
We believe BA is benefitting from several tailwinds, and is demonstrating increased confidence regarding its 787 execution and the ability to take further costs out of the supply chain. However, we believe much of the good news is reflected in BA stock, and we see slowingorders in 2013 as limiting the multiple; therefore, we are maintaining our In-Line rating. Investors areexpecting a significant dividend increase or share repurchase program, which could be a positive catalyst, but we see the new program developments, which include the 737MAX, the 777X and 787-10, as potential competing cash pulls.
Regarding the 787, Boeing confirmed that Charleston is ahead of plan, but that it has been staffed to over deliver. Boeing also made a point of stressing that its movement down the cost curveon the 787 will be similar to that of the 777. We believe that there is an opportunity for Boeing toexceed expectations on the 787.
We continue to believe, however, the much of the execution upside is priced into Boeing stock. We believe that in order for the stock to see material upside, Boeing needs to demonstrate a very bold use of the expected free cash flow, in the form of both increased dividend and share repurchases, that will attract new investor interest and accelerate the EPS growth. However, this will limit the new product development options, considering the potentially competing development requirements of the 737MAX, the 787-10, and the 777X. We believe current BCA leadership wants to do both the 777X and the 787-10, and believes that there is significant pent-up order demand for both new aircraft, but we believe the focus on share repurchases and/or the dividend, reiterated at the 8/28/12 reception, could push some development effort to the right.