Boeing Co. (BA) appointed a new executive to oversee work on the composite plastic 787 Dreamliner and shifted the leader of that program to run the 777, the planemaker’s most-profitable model.
Larry Loftis was named vice president and general manager of the 787, Chicago-based Boeing said today in an e-mailed statement. Loftis previously led the 777 program and will be succeeded by Scott Fancher, the current Dreamliner chief.
Fancher was named to the 787 post in late 2008 and oversaw the jet through its entry into service in October after more than three years of delays. Most of the 55 Dreamliners built so far are being modified to prepare for delivery after design changes since they came off the assembly line.
“Somebody has to take responsibility for what seems like endless delays,” said Richard Whittington, an analyst at Drexel Hamilton LLC in New York. “The company needs to start delivering better per-share earnings, and a lot of that means stopping the red ink on the 787 program.”
Whittington, who recommends buying Boeing shares, cut his estimate for 2012 profit per share to $4.38 in Jan. 30 report, from $5.41. The average of 29 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg is for full-year adjusted earnings of $4.52 a share. Boeing reported 2011 profit of $4.81 on that basis.
Boeing declined to comment beyond its statement and said none of the executives would be available to discuss the matter.
The 777 is Boeing’s largest twin-engine jet, and Fancher’s new role will include working with Lars Andersen, the executive defining the next version of the plane, the company said.
“This will allow us to take advantage of Scott’s vast experience on development programs and allow him to align the 777 production system with the next-generation 777,” Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing’s commercial planes division, said in the statement.
Boeing rose 0.3 percent to $76.06 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 3.7 percent this year.
The company wants to learn more about the composite-plastic A350 from Airbus SAS, slated to enter service in 2014, before deciding “how much to do with the 777,” Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said this month. Airbus delayed first delivery of the A350, designed to compete with both the 777 and the 787, for a second time last year.
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