C Series charge spotlights 787 deferred costs

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May 4, 2016: (c) Leeham Co.: The $500m charge reported last week by Bombardier for 127 recent orders for its C Series resulted in shining the spotlight on Boeing's deferred production costs for the 787.

As LNC wrote this week, interpretation of the BBD charge was misunderstood. Some press reports yesterday demonstrate it continues to be. We won't restate what we've already written about the true nature of the charge and how it differs from program accounting used by Boeing--this has been well covered by now. The Seattle Times suggested that the per-plane profit required to pay off the $29bn in deferred production and $3bn in tooling costs for the Boeing 787 was greater thanBoeing Logo generally recognized. The average figure is about 20% higher than the number widely cited by Wall Street.

The most commonly accepted figure to recapture the record-setting deferred production costs and tooling has been $30m per airplane, a figure most Wall Street analysts believe is too high to achieve. But this number appears understated, according to an analysis by The Seattle Times in the wake of Boeing's first quarter earnings call.

Boeing's 10Q contains language that appears to confuse the issue somewhat.

"At March 31, 2016, $23,661 [million] of 787 deferred production costs, unamortized tooling and other non- recurring costs are expected to be recovered from units included in the program accounting quantity that have firm orders and $8,757 [million] is expected to be recovered from units included in the program accounting quantity that represent expected future orders."

This appears to suggest the first tranche of these airplanes results in a need for a $36m per-plane profit and the second tranche requires a per-plane profit of $54m. Charles Bickers, a spokesman for Boeing's corporate headquarters in Chicago, told LNC that segmenting out the ordered but undelivered aircraft from orders yet to be received but assumed is not the way to look at the issue.

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