Boeing posts fourth straight quarterly loss as sales slump

(Reuters) - Boeing Co <BA.N> reported its fourth straight quarterly loss on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic and 737 MAX grounding hurt sales, while reaffirming its expectation that U.S. deliveries of the jet would resume before year-end.

The U.S. planemaker also said it was sticking with the deeply reduced twin-aisle production rates announced in July, as well as the goal to hit a build rate of 31 narrowbodies monthly in early 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought air travel to a near halt, pushing major airlines to the brink of bankruptcy and forcing them to seek government aid, cut costs and defer aircraft deliveries. Boeing expects passenger travel to return to pre-pandemic levels in about three years, it said.

As a result, Chicago-based Boeing has slashed production, shed thousands of jobs and shifted its jet development strategy, while working to emerge from the depths of the pandemic and the 19-month-old worldwide 737 MAX ban triggered by two fatal accidents.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration was expected to lift its March 2019 grounding order on the 737 MAX as soon as next month, pending approval of software and training changes, meaning the jet could return to service in 2021.

Boeing said it recorded additional severance costs linked to its massive job-shedding campaign earlier this year, and expects to cut 19,000 jobs by year-end for a workforce of about 130,000 employees by end-2021, down from roughly 160,000 it had in 2019.

Boeing also announced a $67 million charge in the quarter on its KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, which Boeing attributed to COVID-19 disruptions and production issues.

The company's free cash outflow rose to $5.08 billion in the quarter, from $2.89 billion, a year earlier, while total debt jumped to $61 billion, from $19.2 billion.

Excluding items, Boeing lost $1.39 per share in the third-quarter ended Sept. 30.

Revenue fell 29% to $14.14 billion.

Shares were up about 1% in pre-market trade.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Marguerita Choy)

10/28/2020 12:19

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