Boeing aims to triple services unit; exec changes support goal


Kevin McAllister, the new CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Boeing photo.

Nov. 22, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Boeing hopes to triple its global services businesses from $15bn in revenues to nearly $50bn in the next five years. A corresponding increase is targeted in market share from today’s 7% in commercial aviation and 9% in defense.

Two moves in the executive ranks yesterday are clear signals of the increasing importance of services to The Boeing Co.’s business strategy, revenue growth and profits.

New CEO for Boeing Commercial Aircraft

Ray Conner, who has worked for Boeing for more than 40 years and worked his way through the ranks to become CEO of Boeing Commercial Aircraft and Vice Chairman of The Boeing Co., announced his retirement yesterday as CEO. He remains vice chairman through December next year, when his current contract expires.

His success is Kevin McAllister, the CEO of GE Aviation Services. He is the first CEO of BCA, which was formed in 1965, who didn’t come from within BCA or the Defense unit.

Boeing Co. CEO Dennis Muilenburg took pains to claim McAllister isn’t the outsider he appears to be, noting that McAllister worked closely with Boeing for many of his 27 years at GE.

Still, McAllister is probably an unknown to the BCA rank-and-file.

McAllister’s experience in customer services at GE Aviation will be important to Muilenburg’s ambitions to grow Boeing’s services business unit.

New Global Services division
Stan Deal Executive Portraits

Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Global Services. Boeing photo.

Stan Deal, a long-time BCA employee and one of those widely believed to be in the running to succeed Conner, was named president and CEO of the new Boeing Global Services (BGS) unit. Deal was previously president of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services (CAS), which services BCA customers.

The new BGS unit will merge CAS with the Boeing Defense services unit to become a 20,000-employee company. Current revenues are about $15bn. CAS has a 7% market share of the commercial aviation service industry. Boeing’s defense unit has a 9% share.

Muilenburg wants to triple these figures in 5-10 years. Boeing sees the service industry growing to $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

BGS is targeted for full integration between BCA and Defense in the third quarter next year.

Conner’s role

Although Conner stepped down as CEO of BCA, he remains with the company during the next year to assist with the transition to McAllister.

He also remains involved in product development. BCA currently is studying development of a 737-10, a 777-10 and potentially a New Mid-range Aircraft (NMA), more commonly known as the Middle of the Market Aircraft.

Decisions on the 737-10 and 777-10 are thought to be coming as early as year-end, but potentially into next year. A decision on the NMA is thought to be farther away, well into next year at the earliest.

None is a given at this time.

Analyst reaction

JP Morgan was the first analyst note LNC received reacting to the moves.
  • Cost cutting focus at BCA unlikely to change and may accelerate. We see two reasons for cost cutting at BCA. One is to offset pressure on margins from falling 777 production and overall pricing; the other is to overcome these headwinds and expand the EBIT margin toward the mid-teens level BA has targeted for roughly decade-end vs < 10% expected this year. Toward that end, BCA employment is down to 78k vs ~83k for 2014-15, the company continues to pursue its Partnering for Success initiative to reduce supplier costs, and management is emphasizing automation. As an outsider and a product of GE’s lean culture, we assume McAllister will seek out more efficiencies, though we do not see his sole contribution being on the cost side since he once led sales for GE Aviation and we view him as well-prepared for the job overall.
  • We do not yet see this as a tipping point for narrow-body strategy. Investors are waiting for Boeing to determine how to approach the narrow-body market into the 2020s in the face of competition from Airbus’ A321neo, with four options available: 1) continue with the current product lineup; 2) develop a stretched 737 MAX 10, potentially for the end of the decade; 3) develop a clean-sheet aircraft between the 737 and 787 for 2024-25; 4) develop both new airplanes. The head of BCA will play a key role in executing whatever strategy management and the board select but we do not at this time view the leadership change as an indication of product strategy and Conner is expected to remain involved on this issue. Boeing intends to decide over the next several months and management has committed to flat commercial R&D dollars through the end of the decade, or ~$2.6bn, regardless of what development path it pursues.
  • New Global Services segment to launch in 3Q17. We estimate that the combined defense and commercial services segment could account for ~$17bn in sales next year, or ~20% of total sales, with commercial contributing $7bn and defense contributing $10bn. We await more information on whether Global Services will break down its sales as well as how Boeing will report BDS results once Services are removed. Boeing veteran Stan Deal, who currently heads Commercial Aviation Services, will lead Global Services. The services move is consistent with a renewed Boeing effort to play a larger role in the commercial aftermarket, a change in the business that may—depending on how it is implemented—adversely impact Boeing suppliers that earn high margins on spares and support.
Canaccord Genuity

Boeing (BA) today announced several changes in its leadership team. First, as expected, Ray Conner, current BCA head, has announced his plans to retire at the end of 2017. We believe the disagreements between Seattle and Chicago over product strategy had taken a toll on Mr. Conner, and while we expected this announcement in early 2017, we are not surprised by this move. However, in an unusual move for Boeing, it has appointed an outsider to run BCA, Kevin McAllister, former head of GE Aviation Services. We had heard rumors that the next CEO of BCA would come from the finance department or at a minimum from within Boeing, which has typically been the pattern. We believe the appointment of Mr. McAllister is a strong move and will ensure continued customer focus within BCA, something Mr. Conner was known for. We also believe BA will benefit from an external perspective, and Mr. McAllister will bring a unique set of tools and perspective that should be valuable as Boeing looks to execute on its upcoming rate breaks, and drive FCF and margin improvement in the business.

BA also announced that Stan Deal, current head of Commercial Aviation Services (CAS) will assume a new role as head of a combined Boeing Global Services, which will pull together the services business of both the commercial airplane and defense businesses. Note that CAS alone is a ~$8.3B business, and GS&S is a ~$10B business, implying that the new Global Services business will be a ~$15B to $20B business, depending on how it is divided. The business will include at a minimum Aviall and Jeppesen, but parts of the fleet support work will remain with the defense and commercial businesses. We believe the break-out of the services business, expected in Q3/17 for reporting purposes, will help with the focus on the services business, and is a positive step from a financial reporting perspective.

In terms of industry implications, clearly the master contract negotiations with Spirit AeroSystems (SPR) will take on a new twist considering now both Mr. McAllister and Mr. Gentile, current CEO of SPR, are both from GE Aviation. While it is difficult to handicap the outcome here, we view this development as a positive for these negotiations getting wrapped up in timely manner. We also believe considering Mr. McAllister’s knowledge of the services market, and the financial accountability now in this effort, Boeing will continue to focus on the services market, and we would not be surprised to see more significant investments in this market, both organic and potentially inorganic. As we have written, we believe BA’s commercial services effort has been under-delivering in terms of its potential. We view these moves as positive, as they reflect a change of strategy at Boeing, and a willingness to take a risk in areas where it sees opportunity, but we remain cautious on the stock considering additional production downside risk, and the challenges with hitting the margin and FCF long-term targets.

7 Comments on “Boeing aims to triple services unit; exec changes support goal

  1. Huge vote off no confidence in Boeing’s internal leadership that nobody was moved up. This looks to be a top down strategy taking firm hold.

  2. Three comments. One, while she’s not being kicked to the curb just yet, is this a demotion for that Leanne gal? I thought it was her plan that she would “morph ” Boeing Defense into Boeing Services, given they can’t seem win any new design fighter and/or bomber contracts? Two, if BA loses the upcoming TX competition, is she then kicked to the curb/”leaving to pursue other interests”? Three, isn’t the $50 B rev–even in 5 years’ time–frankly ridiculous? Kinda like mid teens margins goals? (You vacuum up as much of your suppliers’ net margins, maybe you’ll find you don’t have suppliers anymore! LOL.)

    • Its Boeing Defence Services thats being merged, not the ‘hardware’ side: Boeing Defence Space & Security ( BDS)
      ‘BDS is a $30 billion business with about 50,000 employees worldwide’
      BDS is more the maintenance, training support side and makes sense to combine with the civilian side doing much the same stuff as this increases the scale overnight.
      Regarding the KC46 it was specifically planned to have FAA certification so that it could almost entirely maintained by the civil supply chain.

  3. My first reaction is why would you be blending Defense service and aircraft services.

    While there is some overlap, its not much and even the KC46 is a unique configuration that has little to do with commercial aircraft ops and service.

    If you have headwinds quit buying back your own stock!

  4. How do they handle the security clearances etc of the same people being involved in defence and civil work? That could be tricky if you are looking for some kind on synergy here. 15bn to 50bn in 5 years looks strange.

    Looks to me like a GE legacy imposed by departing Boeing CEOs/board?

    Commercial R+D will be flat at 2.6bn/year for next few years means abt 10 billion total until end of decade. With 787-10, MAX and 777-X costs ongoing that sort of implies perhaps a MAX 10 OR a 777-10. I guess both or an MOM would seem to be out of reach.

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