Boeing plane deliveries hit record; Airbus wins on orders

Boeing said on Tuesday that it delivered 723 jetliners in 2014, hitting its own target, setting an industry record and retaining its title as the world's biggest plane maker, besting rival Airbus Group.

But Boeing lost out to Airbus on new orders, according to a person familiar with the matter, a key contest in determining future market share.

Boeing set company records by booking 1,550 gross orders and 1,432 net orders worth $232.7 billion at list prices in 2014. Net orders, which account for cancellations, rose 6 percent from the prior year.

A Boeing ground test crew member examines a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
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A Boeing ground test crew member examines a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus is expected to announce next week that it was ahead of Boeing on both gross orders and net orders, according to the person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified.

Airbus is expecting "one of the best years ever" in orders, according to a source at the European plane maker, speaking earlier on Tuesday. In 2013, the company booked 1,619 gross orders and 1,503 net orders.

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While investors closely watch orders, deliveries measure the ability to convert orders into cash, since the bulk of aircraft payments come when airlines fly them away from the factory.

Boeing's report suggested stable or growing production rates and also showed its progress in selling end-of-production jets as it transitions to newer models.

We will be number one in 2014: Airbus CEO
We will be number one in 2014: Airbus CEO   

The company delivered 126 of its 737s in the fourth quarter, for example, precisely hitting its target of 42 planes a month. In 2014, it delivered 485 of the jets, a record.

Meanwhile, Boeing delivered its 787 at a rate of nearly 12 a month in the final quarter, up from about nine a month in the rest of the year, when production problems slowed output.

That is above the current production rate of 10 a month.

In hitting its forecast of between 715 and 725 deliveries in 2014, Boeing delivered 45 more 737s and one more 777 than in 2013. The performance supports keeping profit estimates above consensus, Peter Arment, an analyst at Sterne Agee, said in a note.

Boeing also booked 63 orders for 777 jets, putting it "exactly where we wanted to be" in selling out production as it transitions to the 777X at the end of the decade, said Randy Tinseth, Boeing vice president of marketing, in a blog post.