How Safe Is Boeing’s Deal After Iran Cancels Order for Airbus Jets?

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Following the lifting of international sanctions against Iran late last year, the country’s flagship carrier, Iran Air, announced an order for 118 new airplanes from Airbus, including 12 of the European maker’s superjumbo double-decked, four-engine A380. On Sunday at a press conference in Tehran, the airline’s CEO, Farhad Parvaresh, said it will cut its order to a total of 100 planes and eliminate all A380s.
Parvaresh also referred to a recently announced $16.6 billion order with Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) that is being threatened by a congressional prohibition granting the company export licenses, inhibiting Iran’s ability to get bank financing for the purchases. The airline said that it will buy 50 737 MAX 8s, 15 777-300ERs and 15 777-9s. The total value of the order is $16.6 billion.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that Parvaresh said:
Both they [Boeing] and we were willing to reach the conclusion sooner, and fortunately it took place before the new government [in the U.S. takes office]. Both sides are committed, and there are scenarios in the contracts for violation of commitments or in case of force majeure to deal with those cases.
While Parvaresh’s remarks about Boeing were mainly political, the comments related to Airbus were concrete. Iran Air plans to chop the total value of the Airbus deal from an original estimate of around $27 billion to about $10 billion.
At list price the A380 costs $433 million per copy, or a total of about $5.2 billion. Given the new total, it appears likely that the original agreement (which was not a firm order) will be substantially changed in order to reduce the overall cost by $17 billion.
Excluding the A380, the original order included 21 aircraft in the Airbus A320ceo family, 24 A320neo planes, 27 A330ceo aircraft; 18 A330-900neo planes, and 16 A350-1000s.
At the Tehran press conference, Parvaresh said that the A330 was still part of the deal, but he did not indicate the fate of the A320s or the A350-1000s. The per-copy list price of an A350-1000 is $355.7 million, and eliminating those from the order would chop another $5.7 billion from the original price tag. That still leaves another $6 billion or so in cuts to get the original price tag down to $10 billion.
Airbus took just three net new orders for the A380 in 2015. To the end of November 2016, it had taken two new orders and received two cancellations for a net of zero so far this year. The aircraft maker has taken 319 total orders for the A380 and delivered 200 to customers. The order backlog of 119 includes eight planes for Qantas that have not yet been delivered and that the airline said in August it does not intend to take.
Boeing has taken shots recently both from the Congress and from President-elect Donald Trump. The company has fired back with a claim that it indirectly supports 100,000 U.S. jobs and that those jobs are in jeopardy if Boeing is not allowed to sell commercial jets to Iran.
That may be something of a stretch, but Boeing cannot afford to get sideways with the incoming Trump administration or the Republican Congress. More than half of Boeing’s sales are to foreign buyers, and any threat to those sales is a big deal for the company.
Boeing’s stock was down fractionally in Monday’s premarket, after having closed up about 0.5% on Friday, at $154.50 in a 52-week range of $102.10 to $160.07. The consensus price target on the stock is $156.22.

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