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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 22:29 GMT
Boeing surprises with profit news
A plane being put together in a Boeing factory
A record year for orders in 2005 means Boeing will be busy
US aeroplane firm Boeing surprised investors with a profit report that topped expectations, helping push its shares 5% higher in New York trading.

Boeing said net profit rose to $460m (258m) in the last three months of 2005, from $186m in the same quarter a year earlier. Sales rose 7% to $14.2bn.

The firm also raised its forecasts for this year, a move that is likely to be of interest to European rival Airbus.

Boeing is trying to catch Airbus, the world's biggest commercial planemaker.

"Our results and improved outlook reflect a strong commitment to growth, expanding margins and improving how we do business every day," said Boeing chairman and chief executive Jim McNerney.

'Good, great'

Boeing had a bumper year in terms of orders in 2005, taking 1,002 in total. As a result it expects to deliver 395 commercial jets this year, and between 440 and 445 planes in 2007.

Jet revenues rose 8% to $5.9bn in the fourth quarter and analysts said demand is likely to remain steady as airlines grow in Asia and the Middle East, and others upgrade their fleets to become more fuel efficient.

"The strength obviously in this quarter is in the commercial airliner business, and it's going to be that way for the next three or four years." said Chris Lozier, an analyst at Morningstar.

As well as the improved situation at the commercial jet division, Boeing also saw a pick up at its defence unit where sales rose by 7% to $8.1bn.

"Profits were good, cash was great, and the guidance was good," said Cai Von Rumohr, an analyst at SG Cowen.

Boeing's shares added $3.31 to close at $71.62.

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