Boeing shares defy media nightmare

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Image Credit: INABA Tomoaki

Fuel leaks, emergency landings and alarm bells – but shares are up

This week, Boeing, the largest global aircraft manufacturer and second largest aerospace and defence contractor in the world, enjoyed fruits born of confident executive handling of a PR meltdown. On Tuesday shares rose 1.5 percent to $84.16, the highest since May 2008.

Media circus

It’s been something of a struggle getting the Boeing Dreamliner 787 off the ground – the whole process has been plagued by mishaps. To name but a few of the hurdles, a battery on an empty jet caught fire in Boston, cracks appeared in a cockpit window and on-board alarms indicating smoke and a burning smell in the cabin forced Japan’s Dreamliners to make emergency landings. As a result, the Federal Aviation Authority ordered all operators of the U.S.-registered Boeing 787 to stay grounded. International aviation authorities jumped on the bandwagon.

The global business press went into overdrive  and who can blame them – big name, big planes, big money – nice story.

The show must go on

As emergency landings, smoke and fuel spills swirled around them, Boeing execs deployed a confident and optimistic message to investors and journalists alike. They knew that Rolls Royce had already ridden out the Airbus A380 superjumbo problems, so…

“There are no instructions to slow down,” commented CEO Jim McNerney back in January. “It’s business as usual. Let’s keep building airplanes and then let’s ramp up as we planned.”

McNerney stated: “The program remains on track to further increase the final assembly build rate to seven per month in mid 2013 and 10 per month by late 2013, with a subsequent increase in delivery rates.”

Calmly cutting through chaos

And it paid off. Shares have gained 12 percent this year, in spite of everything. Media coverage often affects a share price more than it should. In this instance, Boeing’s  ‘keep calm and carry on’ message cut through the ‘disaster’ depicted in the papers and reached the investors loud and clear.

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