New York CNN —
Boeing reported a $650 million operating loss in the fourth quarter, surprising Wall Street analysts who had expected the aircraft giant to turn a profit.
The company blamed “abnormal production costs” for the unexpected loss as it tried to both deliver the remaining backlog of 737 Max jets and speed up deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner. The company’s production of the 787 remains below normal rates.
In addition, Boeing 787 customers whose deliveries were delayed by about a year had to pay unspecified compensation.
Boeing has reported just two profitable quarters in the nearly four years since the 737 Max was grounded. The jet was grounded for 20 months as of March 2019 after two deadly crashes that killed 346 people. A year later, the pandemic brought demand for flights and new planes to a near halt – leading to the cancellation of hundreds of jet orders and piles of losses for Boeing.
Still, the industry has shown signs of recovery, and analysts polled by Refinitiv had forecast Boeing to earn 26 cents a share. Instead, it reported a $1.75 per share loss. While that’s an improvement from the fourth-quarter 2021 loss of $7.69 per share, it’s also a major disappointment.
The company’s sales also fell short of forecasts, coming in at just under $20 billion. While it was Boeing’s highest revenue figure since the pandemic began, it was about $360 million below analysts’ consensus estimate.
Boeing tried to put the best possible spin on the disappointing results.
The company noted that this is the first full year of positive operating cash flow since the 737 Max crisis began. Boeing ended up raising $3.5 billion more cash than it spent, and the company reiterated its 2023 guidance of positive operating cash flow of between $4.5 billion and $6.5 billion.
“Demand across our portfolio is strong and we remain focused on fostering resiliency across our operations and within the supply chain to meet our commitments in 2023 and beyond,” CEO Dave Calhoun said in the statement company. “Even if the challenges remain, we are well positioned and on the right track to restore our operational and financial strength.”
Boeing (BA) shares fell 2% in premarket trading following the report.