In case stocks needed another reason to soar higher with 20% unemployment, 30% mortgage defaults, GDP about to print at -40%, cratering corporate profits, JPMorgan profit crashing 69% with Jamie Dimon warning of a “severe recession”, Boeing delivered moments ago when the company reported that customers cancelled a record number of orders for the 737 Max lead balloon last month, deepening the crisis the company faces between the coronavirus pandemic which has virtually frozen all commercial air flight and the continued grounding of its best-selling plane after two fatal crashes.
The US planemaker reported a total of 150 MAX cancellations in March, including 75 previously reported from Irish leasing company Avolon. New cancellations came from buyers including 34 of 135 aircraft ordered by Brazil’s GOL.
Boeing, facing a 13-month-old freeze on deliveries of the MAX and now disruption to deliveries of larger planes due to the coronavirus epidemic, said it had delivered 50 planes in the first quarter, nearly a third of the 149 seen a year earlier.
Net cancellations in the month totaled 119 thanks to 31 orders for wide-body passenger planes and military aircraft. The company also delivered 20 jetliners in the month. For the entire first quarter, net orders sank to a negative 307 planes (i.e., cancellations), a sharp turnaround for a company that just over a year ago was aiming to increase output of its planes to meet strong demand.
Boeing also said that it removed 139 MAX orders from its backlog which as of this moment has 5,049 jet orders, a number which is set to plunge in coming months.
“We are working closely with our customers, many of whom are facing significant financial pressures, to review their fleet plans and make adjustments where appropriate,” Boeing said in a statement. “At the same time, Boeing continues to adjust its order book to adapt to lower-than-planned 737 MAX production in the near term.”
In a bizarre twist, this bad news was not enough to send Boeing shares soaring, which tumbled more than 3% shortly after the company posted the dismal figures, trading near session lows.
Boeing will release first-quarter earnings on April 29, when executives are expected to detail the financial damage from virus and whether the company which repurchased $60 billion in stock in the past 5 years pushing its debt to all time high, will resort to a government bailout.