Boeing stock slides premarket after Vertical Research downgrades, forecasts ‘disaster’ quarter

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Boeing Co. shares were downgraded to hold from buy by Vertical Research Partners on Wednesday, after the aerospace giant said it does not expect its 737 Max fleet to resume flying until mid-2020, much later than previously expected. “While yet another push out in the estimated return to service of the MAX is bad enough, the ramifications of this have yet to reverberate,” analysts Robert Stallard and Karl Oehlschlaeger wrote in a note to clients. “From a Boeing perspective, this means over a year without deliveries of its most profitable product line, while customer compensation costs are likely to be higher than previously thought. As we noted in our 4Q19 earnings preview, we are expecting Boeing’s up-coming results to be “an absolute disaster”, and that now looks guaranteed.” Troubles with the Max, which has been grounded since two fatal crashes thought to be related to Boeing’s MCAS system, are not the only challenges facing the company, said the note. The Max is inferior to Airbus’ A320 NEO, the 787 rate is “arguably too high” and the 777x is facing development and demand challenges, said the note. “Overarching all this is the issue of ‘Hubris’ that we have noted before, and a toxic corporate culture that has arguably been the root cause of many of the problems that Boeing management now has to deal with. A new CEO could help, but in our experience changing a company’s culture is a very tough, long term process,” said the note. The analysts lowered their price target for Boeing stock to $294 from $388 and cut forecasts for 2019 to 2022. Shares were down 0.6% premarket and have fallen 12% in the last 12 months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 20% and the S&P 500 has gained 26%. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

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