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Dreamliner grounded, but Boeing stock soars

March 28, 2013|By Stuart Pfeifer
  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by LOT Polish Airlines, during a recent test flight.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner, operated by LOT Polish Airlines, during a recent… (Stephen Brashear / Getty…)

This has been a bad couple of months for Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner, but not for the company’s stock price.

Despite the January grounding of the Dreamliner by the Federal Aviation Administration, investors drove up shares of the aircraft maker to territory it had not seen since 2008.

Boeing stock is up about 14% this year.

FULL COVERAGE: Boeing's troubled Dreamliner

The upswing has been fueled by confidence that the Dreamliner will soon be cleared to resume passenger flights, a move that would allow Boeing to deliver 787s to carriers worldwide.

The FAA ordered the Dreamliner grounded amid concerns that the luxury plane’s batteries could catch fire. But as Boeing appeared to find a solution to the problem, investors poured money into the company’s stock.

Boeing traded as low as $72.68 a share on Jan. 17, one day after the Dreamliners were grounded. Little more than two months later, the stock reached a multi-year high of $86.84, a 19% gain from its January low.

Boeing has redesigned its lithium-ion batteries and hopes to win FAA approval to resume passenger flights within weeks.

Boeing CEO James McNerney said Thursday that testing of the 787 Dreamliner's redesigned batteries will be completed within the next several days and that the plane will carry passengers "sooner rather than later," USA Today reported.

McNerney told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce aviation summit in Washington that the battery problems that grounded the fleet of Dreamliners in mid-January have been "frustrating," according to USA Today.

But, he said, the problems didn't diminish the value of Boeing's flagship jetliner, which is 20% more energy efficient than other commercial jets, has a long range and offers comfortable seating to passengers.

"We have a high degree of confidence in the technical solution we are testing right now," McNerney said. "I think it will be sooner rather than later."

Boeing has taken a total of 890 orders for the Dreamliner from airlines and aircraft leasing firms around the world. Depending on the version ordered, the price ranges from $206.8 million to $243.6 million per jet.

The Chicago-based company currently is making five Dreamliners a month, with plans to reach 10 per month late this year.

The company said in a recent financial statement that it expected "no significant financial impact" from the 787 grounding this year, even though it will not deliver any new 787s as long as the plane is grounded.

Boeing's stock was down slightly Thursday morning, trading at about $86 a share.

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