CHICAGO — Boeing Co.’s first-quarter earnings skidded 14 percent as expenses mounted, but the aerospace firm reported solid results Wednesday from its military and commercial airplane businesses. That helped send the company’s stock to its highest level since 2001.
Increased spending on deferred compensation and pension expenses crimped net profits, pushing them down to $535 million.
The bulk of gains came from the military side, where Boeing cited increased sales of its Future Combat Systems, maritime aircraft and 737 airborne early warning programs. That more than compensated for reduced deliveries of F/A-18 and F-15 fighter jets.
The single-aisle 737 was the main contributor to the commercial airplane business, accounting for 54 of 70 deliveries in the quarter.
Boeing shares rose 66 cents to $59.66 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange after reaching $60.05, their highest intraday price in nearly four years. The stock has doubled in less than two years as Boeing bounces back from the post-2001 aviation slump and continues to rake in lucrative defense contracts.
“Everything’s going very well for them,” said Paul Nisbet, an analyst for JSA Research. Amid a recent surge of airplane orders, “I think they’ll overtake Airbus on orders, very possibly this year,” he said.