Boeing's Q4 Sales and Profits Decline, Backlog Rose Slightly YOY

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Boeing (NYSE: BA) reported a 9% drop in fourth quarter profits on Wednesday as revenues in the company's commercial airplane and defense segments slumped.

The company's new 787 aircraft program has been delayed several times thus far, but CEO Jim McNerney vowed that the development program would be one of the main focuses of the company this year.

Persistent delays to both the 787 and 747-8 aircraft programs have made Boeing's credibility suffer and the company has also taken heavy writedowns because of this. Both programs are running more than three years later than originally planned; the aircrafts are now scheduled for debut around mid-2011.

For the fourth quarter, the company posted net income of $1.16 billion, or $1.56 per share, compared to profits of $1.27 billion, or $1.75 per share, in the year-ago period.

Revenues declined as well to $16.55 billion from $17.93 billion a year earlier. Sales from the company's commercial airplanes segment decreased by 11% to $8.2 billion on lower than expected 777 and 747 airplane deliveries, said Boeing.

Boeing defense, space and security division's fourth-quarter revenue declined 4 % to $8.2 billion on lower sales from the company's military aircraft and from global services and support.

Margins fell in the commercial segment, but rose in the defense unit, according to the company.

Looking ahead, Boeing said it expects to earn between $3.80 to $4.00 per share, reflecting higher pension expenses. Boeing's 2011 revenue guidance is between $68 and $71 billion. For 2010, the company earned $4.45 per share on revenues of $64.3 billion.

Total pension expense in 2011 is expected to be $1.8 billion or $1.58 per share, an increase of $0.58 per share from 2010.

Total company backlog at year-end was $321 billion, unchanged from the prior quarter and up 2% from the prior year, while cash and investments totaled $10.5 billion.

Boeing's shares fell 3% on Wednesday to finish at $70.10.

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