Boeing's Astonishing Recovery

Boeing's Recovery – at Moneyweek.co.uk - the best of the week's international financial media.

Considering the travails of the past 18 months, Boeing is doing "astonishingly well", says The Economist. It has lost two chief executives one to a sex scandal and one chief financial officer, and it has also faced allegations of industrial espionage. But now "it has found the energy to raise its game". A revamp of its defence division has swollen its order backlog to a world-beating $80bn.

On the commercial aircraft front, too, things are looking up. After "taking a ten-year holiday they are finally doing something", Richard Aboulafia of the aerospace and defence consultants, Teal Group, told Fortune's Alex Taylor III. Boeing sensibly avoided competing with the new Airbus 380 superjumbo, opting instead to build an airliner that fits an existing, and much bigger, market: the new 787 model is a 170-250-seat plane, and costs half the price of the A380. It has helped propel Boeing's sales to 245 planes this year, compared to just 145 for Airbus.

Boeing's new-found confidence has been bolstered by its interim CEO (and current chief financial officer) James Bell, who has been in the hot seat since March, says Stanley Holmes in BusinessWeek. An accountant by trade, Bell has won plaudits for his grip on numbers, and has excelled as a mediator and negotiator: in April he persuaded Boeing and Lockheed Martin to merge their rocket-launch businesses in three days; his predecessors had failed to agree a deal in two years.

Yet the board feels Bell lacks operating and manufacturing experience, and are hunting for a replacement. Nevertheless, his financial background and familiarity with the Defence Department are major plus points, said Holmes, and investors like him. It would be a pity to lose him.

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