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Boeing posts record profit of US$4 billion last year


US aerospace giant Boeing reported on Wednesday record profits last year and raised its outlook for this year, saying productivity gains would offset delays in its 787 Dreamliner program.

Full-year net profit soared 84 percent to a record US$4.07 billion, despite virtually flat sales in the fourth quarter.

However, the company warned that delays in its new 787 Dreamliner program would weigh on sales and cash flow this year.

For the whole of last year, adjusted earnings per share (EPS) were US$5.28, driven in part by higher commercial aircraft deliveries, strong growth in defense earnings and productivity gains, Boeing said.

That compared with a net profit of US$2.2 billion or US$2.85 per share in 2006.

Boeing said that fourth-quarter net profit rose 4 percent to US$1.03 billion from the same period in 2006, with EPS at US$1.36. In 2006, profit was US$989 million, or US$1.29 a share.

The results exceeded analysts' consensus EPS forecast of US$5.22 for last year and US$1.32 in the fourth quarter.

"Our 2007 results demonstrate the kind of quality financial performance we can achieve through our simultaneous focus on growth and productivity," said Jim McNerney, chairman, president and chief executive of the Chicago-based firm.

Boeing reported essentially flat revenue in the three months ended Dec. 31. Sales rose to US$17.48 billion from US$17.54 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The Dow component, citing earlier-than-expected productivity gains, lifted its outlook for this year to earnings of US$5.70 to US$5.85 a share, from US$5.55 to US$5.75, "despite some development program challenges."

However, the company lowered its revenue outlook for this year to a range of US$67 billion to US$68 billion, reflecting a previously disclosed delay in its new 787 Dreamliner program. The prior forecast was for revenue of US$67.5 billion to US$68.5 billion.

The company reconfirmed the revised 787 Dreamliner timetable announced in the middle of last month: a first flight around the end of the second quarter, with deliveries to begin early next year.

Because of these delays, Boeing said, it expected to deliver between 475 and 480 commercial planes this year, lowering its previous estimate of 480 to 490 aircraft.

The company said the outlook for its defense business and in-production commercial airplane programs remains "very strong" for next year.

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