Boeing surges after reporting record jet deliveries and massive order backlog

Key Points
  • The aerospace giant delivered 763 planes, one more than its previous high set in 2015.
  • Boeing's backlog is equal to seven years' of production.
  • Narrow-body 737 jet orders rose 35 percent on the year.
Boeing sets record high for airplane deliveries in 2017

Boeing delivered a record number of commercial airplanes last year, the company reported Tuesday, firing up a rally in the company's stock.

The aerospace giant delivered 763 planes, one more than its previous high set in 2015. The company's stock rallied after the report, closing up 2.7 percent at $318.43 and leading the Dow industrials higher.

Boeing, whose shares have more than doubled over the last 12 months, said it booked orders for 912 commercial airplanes, the seventh highest annual total for the company. Those orders pushed Boeing's backlog at the end of 2017 to 5,864 commercial airplanes, an all-time high. The backlog of orders totals about seven years' worth of production, according to Boeing.

Boeing 737 Max
Adrian Dennis | AFP | Getty Images

Boeing's deliveries met the company's guidance of delivering 760-765 commercial airplanes for the year. The company says it also means a sixth straight year where Boeing will deliver more planes than its rival Airbus. The European aerospace company is expected to announce its year-end delivery and order numbers next week.

Deliveries and orders for Boeing's single-aisle 737 jet — its most popular plane — continued to grow, as it rolls out its more fuel-efficient MAX models, whose customers include American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Boeing logged net orders for 745 of its 737 jets last year, up 35 percent from 550 a year earlier and brought production of the narrbowbody planes to 47 a month.

Fading from Boeing's order book and the skies, however, is the Boeing 747.

U.S. airlines have retired the four-engine behemoth from their fleets in recent months and have turned to sleeker, more fuel-efficient models. Other airlines around the world are doing the same. Boeing said it had 12 pending orders for 747s, down from 28 a year earlier. While airlines are phasing it out of their fleets, it is still used to carry cargo.

Randy Tinseth, Boeing's vice president of marketing, said the company expects air passenger traffic to continue to grow as much as 6 percent this year, a projection he called "probably being a little conservative."

"It's hard for me to believe load factors can go much higher," he said, referring to how full airplanes are flying.

Tinseth added that he expects more consolidation among airlines in Europe, where several carriers fell into financial trouble and declared bankruptcy last year.

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