NEW YORK — Robust demand for commercial jets and an increased pace of production helped Boeing earn $1.36 billion in the third quarter, up 18 percent from the same period last year.
On a per-share basis, the Chicago-based company said it had a profit of $1.86. Adjusted for non-operating costs, earnings came to $2.14 per share, better than the average estimate of $1.95 per share from analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.
Boeing Co. is benefiting, in part, from a record jet-buying spree by airlines, driven by cheap financing and a growing number of global fliers. In the past quarter alone, Boeing booked 501 net plane orders, bringing its backlog up to more than 5,500 airplanes valued at a record $430 billion.
The company is also increasing its production rates, helping to improve its cash flow. During the quarter, Boeing delivered 186 commercial jets, up from 170 during the same period last year.
So far this year, 528 new planes have rolled off Boeing assembly lines, compared to 476 during the first nine months of 2013. The vast majority of that increase comes from its popular 737 — a single-aisle plane that is the workhorse of airlines around the globe — and the 787 Dreamliner, a lightweight fuel-saving aircraft that had numerous delays and hiccups. Boeing 787 customers took delivery of 31 jets in the past three months.
The commercial jet revenue was slightly offset by Boeing's military arm, which saw its revenue fall 1.7 percent to $7.91 billion. The company did benefit from doubling deliveries of its P-8 Poseidon jet, a modified version of the 737, to four aircraft. However, fewer government satellite launches pulled down its space systems revenue.
Overall, the aerospace and defense company had revenue of $23.78 billion in the period, also topping Wall Street forecasts. Analysts expected $23.04 billion, according to Zacks.
Looking ahead, the company increased its outlook for full-year core earnings per share — excluding non-operating costs such as pensions — by 20 cents to a range of $8.10 to $8.30 per share. The forecast for revenue remains in a range of $87.5 billion to $90.5 billion.
Boeing shares rose 8 cents to $127.20 in premarket trading. The shares have fallen almost 7 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased 5 percent. The stock has risen roughly 5 percent in the last 12 months.
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.