CHICAGO (AP) -- Boeing Co., the world's second-largest commercial aircraft maker after Europe's Airbus, reports its fourth-quarter results on Wednesday. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period.
OVERVIEW: The most important numbers in Boeing's quarter weren't dollars. They were 7-8-7. Boeing's long-awaited new plane finally flew in December, and getting it certified and delivered by the end of this year will be Boeing's biggest task.
Meanwhile, demand for air travel and cargo flying is in a slump, so the people who buy airliners have gotten conservative. Boeing took orders for just 142 commercial airplanes last year, its lowest total since at least 2003, and one-tenth of its 2007 orders. It still has a backlog of 3,375 commercial aircraft.
BY THE NUMBERS: Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, expect Boeing to report a fourth-quarter profit of roughly $996 million, or $1.36 per share, on revenue of $17.57 billion. A year earlier it reported a loss of $56 million, or 8 cents per share.
ANALYST TAKE: Barclays analyst Joseph F. Campbell Jr. upgraded Boeing earlier this month to "overweight" from "equal weight," but not because the 787 took off. Rather, it was because of progress in reducing supplier delays and costs for the 787, along with improvements in the economic outlook and the first flight of the revamped 747-8 expected during the first quarter.
"These accomplishments taken together with the first flight and a still cheap stock price ... we find more than sufficient to warrant an upgrade," he wrote.
WHAT'S AHEAD: Delivering the 787 is the top task at Boeing. Deliveries of the rest of its planes are likely to hit a low point this year, with Campbell predicting 2010 deliveries of 451 aircraft.
"After 2010, deliveries should increase steadily but modestly each year for several years," he wrote.
STOCK PERFORMANCE: Boeing shares were straight-and-level during the quarter, falling just 2 cents to $54.13. they ranged between $29.05 and $62.31 during the past 52 weeks.