Boeing's third-quarter profits and revenues announced Wednesday were a pleasant surprise for Wall Street, which had expected less encouraging results.
The aerospace company reported earnings per share of $1.35. That compares with an average analyst profit forecast of $1.12 a share. The company's results even exceeded the highest estimate, $1.29 a share, among 18 analysts polled.
Those surprising results led Boeing to raise its forecast for total 2012 earnings from a prior prediction of $4.40 to $4.60 a share to $4.80 to $4.95 a share.
The company's revenues of $20 billion were 13 percent higher than last year's third quarter when Boeing reported revenues of $17.72 billion. Credit commercial airplane deliveries that were both 17 percent higher in numbers and skewed more toward higher-priced aircraft than in last year's third quarter.
There was good news and bad news with those increased deliveries to customers. Many of those aircraft were Boeing's newest, high-value planes, 787 Dreamliners and 747-8s, which carry higher prices. But because of huge startup costs and production delays, those aircraft profit margins were slim or non-existent.
The Puget Sound-based Commercial Airplanes division reported smaller operating margins, 9.5 percent versus last year's third quarter's 11.4 percent as a result.
The company said higher pension costs were to blame, in part, for the weaker profits than last year.
The company is raising production levels on all of its commercial aircraft lines. Just this week, Boeing began ramping up the 777 assembly line to 8.3 planes a month, its highest ever. In Renton, the company is working to raise production of its best-selling 737 to 42 a month.
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