Boeing Co shares tumbled 6.5 percent to a nearly five-year low on Tuesday as analysts expressed concerns about the plane maker and defense contractor meeting profit estimates over the next two years, as it grapples with production delays, airlines' lack of financing to buy planes, and risks that the new U.S. administration will cut defense spending, Reuters reported.
The shares were down $2.68 at $38.50 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. They hit $38.05 earlier in the session, their lowest level since December 2003. The shares are down about 64 percent from their all-time high of $107.80 in July 2007.
The Chicago-based company is not likely to meet consensus Wall Street profit estimates for 2009 and 2010, Cowen and Co analyst Cai von Rumohr said in a note to clients, citing the threat of a global recession on airlines' demand for new planes, delays on Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 jumbo, and higher pension costs.
Rumohr expects Boeing to earn $5.90 per share next year, well below an average forecast of $6.20 among 20 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.
For 2010, he expects $6.20 per share, down from his previous estimate of $6.50. Analysts are expecting $6.62, on average.
Before a 58-day machinists' strike -- which closed Boeing's commercial airplane plants between September 6 and November 2 -- the company was forecasting profit of $6.80 to $7 per share for 2009. Boeing said it would update that outlook when the strike ended, but has not yet set a date to do that.
On top of commercial aerospace concerns, von Rumohr said Boeing's defense unit may be hit if the administration of President-elect Barack Obama cuts back some important programs, such as the Future Combat Systems, a program to revamp the Army's electronic communications, and the F-22 fighter jet, for which Boeing makes the wings and integrates the cockpit electronics.
Elsewhere, other analysts expressed worries that Boeing and its rival Airbus, a unit of EADS (EAD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), will have to step up financing for their customers in the next few years, as traditional lenders scale back loans in the wake of the global credit crisis.
"For the foreseeable future the pool of traditional aircraft financers will be smaller due to mergers or termination of business, which will drive up financing costs for aircraft acquisitions," Calyon Securities analyst Ray Neidl said in a note to clients.
Plane makers may be forced to step up financing activities to fill the gap, said Credit Suisse analyst Robert Spingarn.
"There is risk that the OEMs (Boeing and Airbus) may need to step up more than in previous cycles," said Spingarn. "If financing represents the same proportion as in the previous down-cycle, this would suggest $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion each per year of financing."
Financing is not usually a profitable business for the plane makers, which would rather sell planes outright to third parties.