Demand for planes boosts Boeing 4Q profit

Boeing’s fourth-quarter profit rose 26 percent as it delivered more commercial airplanes – a speedup that it said will continue this year.

Boeing Co. shares dropped more than 5 percent Wednesday after it said this year’s profit and revenue would grow less than analysts had been expecting.

Boeing finished 2013 with a fourth-quarter profit of $1.23 billion, or $1.61 per share, well ahead of the expectation of analysts surveyed by FactSet. Profits grew in both its commercial airplane and defense businesses.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $23.79 billion.

Orders from airlines around the world have pushed both Boeing and competitor Airbus to build more planes than ever. Boeing says it will deliver 715 to 725 planes this year, an increase of at least 10 percent from last year.

Boeing has sped production of both its workhorse 737, as well as its new 787. It expects to deliver 110 787s this year, up from 65 last year. Earlier this month Boeing said it began building 787s at a rate of about 10 per month.

Boeing’s profits are benefiting from the surge in deliveries, but not as much as analysts had hoped. On Wednesday it said so-called “core” earnings, which exclude certain items, would be $7 to $7.20 per share, with revenue of $87.5 billion to $90.5 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a profit of $7.52 per share on revenue of $92.72 billion.

For all of 2013, Boeing earned $5.96 per share on revenue of $86.62 billion.