The "Year of Boeing" has begun, and it will be driven by orders, declared Citigroup analyst Jason Gursky. He spoke to CNBC just before the aerospace company announced annual order and delivery figures.
"Airbus won the order game in 2011 with the A320neo. Boeing didn't have a competing plane to sell. They now have it with the 737 MAX, and as such I expect them to be the big winner this year," said Gursky.
Soon after Gursky's comments, Boeing reported its commercial aircraft deliveries rose 3 percent to 477 in 2011, missing expectations of 480.
But in 2012, Gursky expects deliveries to jump "at least 10 percent, driven by new models."
Citigroup rates Boeing a "buy," with an $82 price target, based in part on the logic that historically, both Boeing and Airbus stocks have traded in sympathy with orders.
Boeing shares traded as high as $73.83 on Thursday, up 13 percent thus far this year.
The skies, however, are still cloudy for the company. On Wednesday, Boeing said it plans to close a massive defense plant in Wichita, Kansasamid spending cuts.
Rising oil prices are driving these cuts. The US defense department, a crucial buyer for Boeing, is also facing its own steep budget cuts which President Obama was reviewing at the Pentagon on Thursday.
These headwinds don't deter Gursky in his assessment.
"Orders are driven by an aging fleet of US aircraft, in need of replacement. Andhigh oil prices make it necessary for companies to get more efficient planes," he added.
As for the hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake in proposed defense budget cuts, he said:
"A lot of these cuts are going to come from military personnel and operations and maintenance accounts — not the weapons-buying accounts."
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Jason Gursky does not own stock in Boeing. Citigroup Global Markets currently has, or had Boeing as an investment banking client within the past 12 months.