Airlines

Argus Research's John Eade says Boeing's new CEO doesn't change his attitude on the stock

Key Points
  • Argus Research analyst John Eade, who downgraded Boeing from a buy to a hold rating just days after the 737 Max was grounded by the FAA, is not convinced a new CEO is enough to fix Boeing's challenges.
  • "There's just so much uncertainty about when this plane is going to fly again," he says on "Power Lunch."
  • Boeing's issues lie in "what has to be done before the regulators are convinced that they're willing to lift the grounding, and there's been very little transparency on that," Eade says.
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Argus Research's John Eade: Boeing's shakeup doesn't change outlook on stock

Boeing's move to shake up its leadership hasn't persuaded one analyst, who was among the first to downgrade the stock in the midst of its 737 Max crisis, to turn positive again.

Argus Research analyst John Eade, appearing on "Power Lunch," told CNBC on Monday that the planemaker has more work to do to prove it can get its popular 737 Max back in operation.

"There's just so much uncertainty about when this plane is going to fly again," he said.

Boeing ousted CEO Dennis Muilenburg Monday morning as the company struggles to rebound from two fatal 737 Max crashes that killed more than 340 passengers. David Calhoun, a General Electric veteran, has been tapped to become the new CEO in January.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded the top-selling airplanes in March following the October 2018 accident in Indonesia and a March 2019 accident in Ethiopia.

Argus, which has been a longtime bull on Boeing, downgraded the stock from buy to hold days after the FAA issued the grounding order. Boeing shares are down nearly 10% since that March 19 call.

"It's not the backlog, it's not really the CEO, it's just what has to be done before the regulators are convinced that they're willing to lift the grounding, and there's been very little transparency on that, and I'm hoping we get that more of that from the new CEO," Eade said Monday.

Management expert Jeff Sonnenfeld, however, thinks Calhoun is the "perfect person" to lead the embattled plane manufacturer.

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Appearing on "The Exchange," the Yale School of Management professor cited Calhoun's relation to past Boeing CEO James McNerney among his top qualifications for the role. During McNerney's helm, from 2005 to 2015, Boeing began producing what would become the 737 Max.

"He's a protege of McNerney, so if you're looking for the McNerney positive influence, he worked for McNerney when McNerney was back at GE," Sonnenfeld said of Calhoun, who was tapped to take over Boeing on Jan. 13. "He ran a $60 billion business, 120,000 people in aviation and infrastructure at GE."

Calhoun's presence at Caterpillar counts as another plus for Boeing, Sonnenfeld added. He was chairman of the board for the large machinery manufacturer in 2017-2018 and currently serves as presiding director.

"He turned around Caterpillar," Sonnenfeld said.

Calhoun's resume also includes senior managing director of Blackstone and CEO of Nielsen.

Sonnenfeld said the shakeup at Boeing is about "more than just Calhoun." He said he believes the company has the right leadership structure in place, pointing to Larry Kellner, who was named chairman of the board. Kellner is a former CEO of Continental Airlines, which merged with United Airlines in 2012.

"[Kellner] knows what he's doing as far as contact with the air carriers," Sonnenfeld said.

Sonnenfeld also praised Chief Finance Officer Greg Smith for being "a lot more than a bean counter" who serves as the "culture carrier that really can speak to the employees and the financial community."

Boeing shares rose about 2.9% to $337.55 a share on Monday.