Friday, July 24, 2009

The Emperor's New 787 Dreamliner

By Sam Ro - Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was originally scheduled to fly in September 2007. Just a few days before the maiden flight, management announced what would be the beginning of a 2+ year delay. That’s long even by airline standards. In its five or six announcements—it’s hard to keep count—management blamed everything from a shortage of fasteners to incomplete software to a labor strike.

The latest delay was announced on June 23, 2009. Management said, “first flight of the 787 Dreamliner will be postponed due to a need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft.” I’m not an aerospace engineer, so I won’t say how I really feel about that. Regarding first flight and aircraft deliveries, they said, “It will be several weeks before the new schedule is available.”

Several weeks later on July 22, 2009, Boeing announced their Q2 financial results. Regarding the 787, they said “The company expects to complete its assessment of the schedule and financial implications during the third quarter.” Not only have they delayed first flight, they have also delayed the new schedule for first flight. They also added that they recently completed “low-speed taxi tests on the first flight test aircraft.” I guess you learn to walk before you run…or fly. Again, I’m not an aerospace engineer.

At this point, I have lost confidence in management and I am only 99% sure that the Dreamliner will eventually get off the ground. While I think it would be risky to bet against BA stock at current levels, I would not recommend you buy it either. If that 1% disaster comes true, shares will take a Black Swan-style swan dive