Boeing is due to report total order activity for 2016 later on Friday, but analysts believe the world's biggest plane maker may fall short of targets.
The American manufacturer previously said it hoped to sell as many commercial jets as it delivered in 2016, estimated to be above 700. But even after clinching two last-minute orders, a combined 80 737 MAX 8 aircrafts from GE Capital Aviation Services and Czech airline Travel Service that was announced Wednesday, Boeing's order tally is seen around 536.
Ken Herbert, managing director and senior aerospace and defense analyst at Canaccord Genuity, expects a number in the 550-600 range.
While it is below the one-to-one or the one book-to-bill guidance provided at the beginning of 2016, it's not a drastically low number that will spook investors, he explained, adding that 2016 saw good 787 order activity, but 777 orders were lower than expected.
Both the 787 Dreamliner and the 777 are wide-body planes with high fuel efficiency levels and are typically used for long-haul flights. The 737 MAX meanwhile is a narrow-body jetliner that Boeing calls the fastest-selling airplane in the firm's history.
Going forward, 777 orders are seen recovering.
"Boeing just made an announcement about (777 production) rates going to 5 a month later in 2017. The real rate is closer to 3.5 a month, so this reflects the bottom of this plane. There's a backlog to support rates at around 4 a month so I'm not expecting any more bad news for 777s," Herbert said.
He anticipates some new orders for the 737 MAX, but warned that the real focus will be on execution and delivery.
"The real story for Boeing now is their ability to deliver on [production] rate increases and watch macro issues, such as currencies, that could negatively impact them, especially as they plan significant upward movement in 737 production numbers."
Boeing is due to release financial results for the fourth quarter on Jan. 25. New York-listed shares ended flat on Thursday.
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