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Boeing Profit Up 27%, Helped by Commercial Airplane Demand

In this hand hout computer-generated image provided by Boeing shows the company's new series Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Wednesday, April; 27, 2005.  A senior Boeing Co. official on Wednesday brushed off the threat of European rival Airbus SAS's "superjumbo," saying orders for Boeing's smaller, more fuel-efficient Dreamliner were robust. (AP Photo/Boeing) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **
AP
In this hand hout computer-generated image provided by Boeing shows the company's new series Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Wednesday, April; 27, 2005. A senior Boeing Co. official on Wednesday brushed off the threat of European rival Airbus SAS's "superjumbo," saying orders for Boeing's smaller, more fuel-efficient Dreamliner were robust. (AP Photo/Boeing) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **

Airplane maker Boeing said Wednesday that its first-quarter earnings climbed 27%, thanks largely to robust orders for commercial airplanes and strong defense business.

The world's No. 2 commercial airplane maker earned $877 million, or $1.13 a share, for the quarter ending March 31 compared with $692 million, or 88 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue climbed 8% to $15.4 billion, beating Wall Street expectations.

During the year-ago period, Chicago-based Boeing had revenue of $14.3 billion.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings a share of $1.01 on revenue of $15.02 billion.

The company said its backlog climbed 23% to another record -- $262 billion -- thanks largely to strong commercial plane and defense orders.

"These results are in line with our expectations for the quarter and represent solid progress toward the high goals we have for ourselves in 2007 and beyond," President and CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement. "Our record backlog, increasing productivity, and the progress of our development programs have us on track to achieve our growth and profitability objectives."

The company's commercial airplane division delivered 106 planes as its revenue climbed 7% to $7.6 billion. The unit's profit from operations remained largely flat at $706 million, compared to $703 million last year.

Boeing's integrated defense systems division saw its revenues climb 7%, while its operating profit slipped 4% to $784 million, down from $817 million during the year-ago period.

Boeing reaffirmed its previous 2007 guidance, saying it expected to have revenue between $64.5 billion and $65 billion, while earning between $4.55 and 4.75 a share. In 2008, the company said it expects to have revenue between $71 billion and $72 billion, while earning between $5.55 and $5.75 a share.

During the quarter, Boeing said it repurchased about 44 million shares worth $360 million.

Boeing also said it expects to spend up to $3.4 billion on research and development this year. The development of company's 787 Dreamliner continues to progress on time, officials said. The plane is expected to begin service in May 2008, while its first flight is targeted for late August.

"The program continues to address pressures with respect to weight, schedule and supplier implementation as it moves to the very critical final assembly and software and systems integration phases," Boeing said in a statement.

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