Business / Corporate

Boeing to take $4.9 billion charge as 737 Max fallout worsens

Bloomberg

Boeing Co. plans to record a $4.9 billion accounting charge related to its beleaguered 737 Max jetliner when the company reports quarterly earnings next week.

The after-tax charge, equivalent to $8.74 a share, covers potential concessions and considerations for airline customers who have been forced to cancel thousands of flights and line up replacement aircraft since the Max was grounded in March, the company said in a statement Thursday. The costs will clip $5.6 billion from revenue and pretax earnings in the quarter.

Investors will be parsing the company’s results, slated for July 24, for details of the financial blow that Boeing is absorbing as it churns out the single-aisle aircraft while waiting for regulators to clear the Max to resume commercial flights. Boeing was little changed at $361 after the close of regular trading in New York.

The Max, Boeing’s best-selling jet, has been grounded since March after two flights crashed within a five-month span, killing 346 people. The disasters and questions about the aircraft’s design have engulfed the Chicago-based plane-maker in one of the worst crises in its century-long history.

Boeing’s first-quarter profit margins were dented by $1 billion in estimated costs after it cut factory output of the narrow-body jets following the global grounding. That estimated expense has grown by another $1.7 billion, primarily due to a “longer than expected reduction in the production rate,” the company said.

The higher costs will reduce the margin for the 737 program, Boeing’s largest source of profit and revenue, in the second quarter and future quarters. The company said it is assuming that regulatory approval of the Max’s “return to service in the U.S. and other jurisdictions begins early in the fourth quarter” of this year.