Boeing (BA) posted a 30% decline in fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday but topped expectations, as the company continues to play defense against a series of 787 mishaps that prompted regulators to ground all Dreamliners earlier this month.
The Chicago-based jet maker attributed the bottom-line beat to a sharp rise in deliveries and orders, with more than 600 airplanes delivered, including the firs three Charleston-built 787 Dreamliners, and 900 737 MAX aircraft orders.
“In a year of considerable achievement, Boeing was the commercial aviation market leader for both orders and deliveries,” said Boeing CEO Jim McNerney.
The new 787, however, was plagued with problems in January, including two battery meltdowns that led to an emergency landing in Tokyo. Safety regulators have grounded all 150 jets currently in operation while they probe the cause of the mishaps.
While Boeing has been cooperating with authorities, a New York Times report released late Tuesday indicates that Boeing may have been aware of the battery glitches long before the recent problems. All Nippon Airways, which has been front and center in the Dreamliner debacle, had replaced 10 of the batteries in the months before the fire, according to the report.
Boeing has maintained production of the 787, but has decided to postpone deliveries pending the culmination of the investigation and the lifting of the FAA airworthiness directive that has grounded the aircraft.
“Our first order of business for 2013 is to resolve the battery issue on the 787 and return the airplanes safely to service with our customers,” McNerney said.
The company, he said, also remains focused on a profitable ramp up in commercial airplane production and continued growth in core and international defense and space markets.
The Chicago-based jet maker reported fourth-quarter net income of $978 million, or $1.28 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $1.39 billion, or $1.84 a share.
Excluding one-time items, Boeing said it earned $1.46 a share compared with $1.92 in 2011, topping average analyst estimates of $1.19 a share, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.
Revenue grew 14% to $22.3 billion from $19.5 billion a year ago, narrowly missing the Street’s view of $22.35 billion. The results were led by increased commercial airplane deliveries, whose revenue soared 32% to $14.16 billion.
Shares of Boeing, which remain down about 4% since the Jan. 7 battery fire in Boston, climbed more than 1% to $73.65 on Wednesday.