Boeing, Airbus shares soar despite order drought

An Airbus A330neo commercial passenger aircraft takes off in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, July 10, 2018.

Regis Duvignau | Reuters

For the second time in the last four months, Airbus has recorded zero orders for new airplanes. 

The European plane manufacturer recorded no new orders in May as the company adjusts to the harsh reality of airlines canceling or deferring orders for new planes in a bid to save cash. Boeing reports May orders and deliveries next week with some analysts expecting the company to post a fifth straight month of no order growth.  

“I’m not surprised by these numbers,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst for the Teal Group. “I think we have another two years of negative book-to-bill for the plane makers.”

The drought in orders has already forced both Airbus and Boeing to lower their production schedules and outline plans to cut thousands of jobs, a bitter pill after nearly a decade of strong orders creating record backlogs. In March and April, shares of Boeing and Airbus were both at multiyear lows due to concerns about mounting losses.

The outlook for both plane makers hasn’t changed, but their investors don’t seem to care. Shares of Boeing and Airbus are both up more than 40% in the last month. What’s driving the renewed optimism by investors?

Aboulafia said a primary factor is the hope of a V-shaped recovery in commercial air travel. “This a real head-scratcher,” said Aboulafia. “My head is red and raw trying to figure out why people expect such a strong rebound in air travel.”

On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration screened 391,882 people at airport security checkpoints in the U.S., the highest number of screenings since March 22. Overall, daily passenger levels at U.S. airports are down more than 85% compared with the same time a year ago.

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