In releasing its financial results for the quarter ended Dec 31, 2014, the global aviation company said the total company backlogs at the quarter-end was a record US$ 502 billion, up from US$ 490 billion at the beginning of the quarter, and included net orders for the quarter of US$ 37 billion.
Commercial airplanes booked 432 net orders during the quarter with a record 1,432 orders in 2014. Backlog remains strong with nearly 5,800 airplanes valued at a record US$ 440 billion.
Boeing reported an increase of 23 per cent in core earnings per share (non-GAAP – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) to US$ 2.31, reflecting strong performance across the company.
Fourth-quarter core operating earnings (non-GAAP) increased to US$ 2.3 billion and GAAP earnings from operations increased to US$ 2.0 billion
Core earnings per share guidance for 2015 is set at between US$ 8.20 and US$ 8.40, while GAAP earnings per share guidance is established at between US$ 8.10 and US$ 8.30.
Operating cash flow is expected to be greater than US$ 9 billion.
Boeing Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said strong operating performance in the final quarter of 2014 propelled the company to seal a fifth consecutive year of core operating earnings growth.
“By responding to strong demand with market-leading and proven products and capabilities, and delivering them more efficiently, we are strengthening a powerful business platform that is providing increased returns for our shareholders.
“Our Commercial Airplanes business successfully increased production rates and set an industry record for annual deliveries, while also growing the backlog to new highs on record new orders for the year,” he said.
Moving forward, McNerney said Boeing would continue to build on its commercial airplanes market leadership, strengthening and repositioning its defence, space and security business.
Boeing would also strive to better meet the needs of customers by focusing on improving productivity, executing development plans and delivering industry-leading portfolio of innovative aerospace products and services.
During the quarter, the company repurchased 7.8 million shares for US$ 1 billion and paid $ 0.5 billion in dividends.
Based on the strong cash generation and outlook, in December, the board of directors increased the share repurchase authorisation to a total of US$ 12 billion, replacing the authorisation approved in 2013 of which about US$ 4.8 billion was remaining, and raised the quarterly dividend to 25 per cent.
Share repurchases are expected to be made over the next two to three years.
Commercial Airplanes fourth-quarter revenue increased 15 per cent to a record US$ 16.8 billion on higher deliveries.
During the quarter, the company began production on the fuselage stringers of the first 737 MAX airplane, which had over 2,600 firm orders since launch.
The company had also began final assembly of the 787-9 Dreamliner at the South Carolina facility and broke ground on the 777X composite centres in Everett and St Louis.
Boeing Military Aircraft (BMA) fourth-quarter revenue was US$ 3.0 billion, reflecting lower planned F-15 and C-17 deliveries.
Operating margin increased to 12.3 per cent, reflecting strong operating performance.
During the quarter, BMA completed the first flight of the 767-2C test aircraft for the KC-46 tanker programme and Congress approved funding for 15 EA-18G Growlers.
Global Services & Support (GS&S) fourth-quarter revenue increased to US$ 2.4 billion on higher volume in maintenance, modification and upgrades (MM&U).
During the quarter, GS&S was awarded a 25-year order from the Australian government to train navy and army rotary wing aircrew.
Backlog at Defence, Space & Security was US$ 62 billion, of which 36 per cent represents orders with international customers
At quarter-end, Boeing Capital’s net portfolio balance stood at US$ 3.5 billion.