Boeing sales plunge amid 737 Max fallout

Boeing sales plummeted 21 percent in the three months through September as the grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX continued to halt deliveries.

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That's when customers make the bulk of their payments to the planemaker, and buyers haven't received the single-aisle jet since its March grounding. Still, total sales of $19.98 billion were better than analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected, sending shares higher ahead of the opening bell.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BABOEING COMPANY367.00-2.46-0.67%

The airplane maker's core earnings of $895 million, or $1.45 a share, were a different story: They fell short of the $2.12 that Wall Street analysts expected. Net income was $1.17 billion, or $2.05 a share.

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"Our top priority remains the safe return to service of the 737 MAX, and we're making steady progress," said Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg. "We've also taken action to further sharpen our company's focus on product and services safety."

The 737 MAX was grounded after two overseas crashes killed more than 300 people. Regulators demanded the planemaker devise a patch to prevent anti-stall software from acting on erroneous data and attempting to lower a plane's angle of ascent during takeoff.

Boeing has said it expects the 737 MAX to be back in the skies before the end of this year. The head of the European Aviation Safety Agency told Reuters on Tuesday that regulators could approve the aircraft's return to service in January.

The planemaker said it will gradually ramp up 737 MAX production from 42 per month to a record 57 by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, Boeing said it was cutting 787 production from 14 per month to 12 as a result of the current global trade environment.

The fallout from the 737 MAX's accidents runs deep at Boeing. Aside from the aircraft being grounded and the planemaker cutting production, executives are also under the microscope.

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CEO Dennis Muilenberg was stripped of his chairmanship earlier this month, and Kevin McAllister, the executive running Boeing's commercial planes business, stepped down on Tuesday.