Boeings (BA) shares flew higher Wednesday morning after the aerospace and defense giant beat the Street with a 20% jump in second-quarter earnings and boosted its guidance.

Chicago-based Boeing also revealed fewer cuts to its 787 and 747-8 delivery forecast than some had feared.

The blue-chip industrial giant said it earned $941 million, or $1.25 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $787 million, or $1.06 a share, a year earlier. Analysts had called for EPS of just 97 cents.

Boeings revenue gained 6.2% to $16.54 billion, narrowly surpassing the Streets view of $16.51 billion. Operating margins grew to 9.3% from 8.4%.

Strong operational performance drove double-digit margins at both of our major businesses and produced outstanding results in the quarter," CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement. "Our outlook for the year has strengthened as our team continues its relentless focus on productivity improvement, cash management and program execution."

Shareholders breathed a sigh of relief as Boeing lowered its 787 and 747-8 delivery for 2011 to a range of 25 and 30. Analysts had warned of even deeper cuts.

Boeing said it delivered 118 commercial planes last quarter, up 4% from the year before. Commercial airplane revenue jumped 19% to $8.84 billion.

Defense, space and security revenue slipped 4% to $7.69 billion last quarter, while military aircraft revenue inched up 2% to $3.64 billion. Network and space systems revenue fell 12% to $2.08 billion and global services and support sales slid 4% to $1.97 billion.

Looking ahead, Boeing upped its full-year EPS guidance to $3.80 to $4.00 on revenue of $68 billion to $71 billion. Wall Street had been anticipating EPS of $4.11 on sales of $69.35 billion.

Boeings stock rose 2.14% to $71.66 ahead of Wednesdays open, putting it on pace to add to its 2011 gain of 7.5%.

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