Boeing stock (BA) struggled during the week’s opening trading session after a subsidiary of state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines canceled a $5.9 billion, 30-jet order in the wake of the 737 Max controversy.
Boeing’s loss looks like the Airbus A320’s gain, in what could be an alarming trend for BA bulls.
There are two very different realities playing out for Boeing stock over the last year: the newsfeed and the share price.
First of all, the news has been horrendous. The two downed 737 Max planes were themselves terrible tragedies, but the fact that Boeing has been found guilty of a myriad of avoidable safety failings intensified the firestorm. We now have a significant order being canceled and moved over to Boeing’s greatest rival in Airbus.
And yet, glancing over at the stock chart you see that while BA is under-performing, there hasn’t been the collapse you might expect.
The market performance represents a prevailing opinion that Boeing will be able to muddle through the red tape, get the 737 Max flying again, and deliver the bulk of its outstanding order sheet.
Still, there is also a lesser-known link between Airbus and Boeing that may be driving some demand for BA stock. The A320 has a number of its parts manufactured by Boeing.
Therefore, even if demand falls for the 737 Max, the US’s largest plane-maker will still get a slice of the action. This is not as good for the company as actually selling its jets, and more Flyadeal-style snubs would be disastrous should they snowball.
For some real insight into just how sanguine investors have been about the benefits for Airbus and risks to Boeing stock, compare the performance of them both since the second 737 Max disaster.
You can see how Airbus has continued its uptrend that was in place before the crash. Boeing, on the other hand, has trended lower in a gently sloping bearish move since the initial dip.
Evidently, traders don’t see Airbus making a fortune off canceled Boeing orders, as the stock was in a steeper uptrend before the 737 Max found itself on the no-fly list.
Flyadeal’s cancellation is very much the exception and not the rule – at least as it currently stands. Airbus cannot magic more planes out of thin air; they are already running at full capacity. Thus Boeing’s orders are largely secure for now.
The complicated world of big aviation serves as an exceptional defense for Boeing’s stock price. Once the orders are in, it’s a convoluted and financially costly procedure to cancel an order, and you can’t just walk into an Airbus dealership and pick up 50 jets.
The slow bleed in BA will continue while order cancellations mount, but any collapse would probably come from broader risk appetite on Wall Street.
Boeing stock last traded at $351.13 for a session decline of 1.35% shortly before the closing bell.