The biggest beneficiary of President Donald Trump’s “America first” policy may in fact be Boeing.
As one of the largest manufacturers in the U.S., Boeing’s role as political tool has turned the company into a major selling point for both Trump’s voter base and foreign policy. It has served the company well.
Last week, Trump’s first presidential visit to China received much fanfare after he unveiled that China signed a $37 billion deal for an order of 300 Boeing planes in one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. The announcement implied that he was responsible for the deal though it was widely criticized by media outlets as disingenuous because it strung together past deals. Still, the goal was to “create more jobs for American workers,” the White House said in a statement.
That message has boded well for the aerospace and defense company. Last month, Trump and the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong watched first-hand as Singapore Airlines inked a $13.8 billion deal to take 39 aircrafts from Boeing. Trump claimed the deal would create 70,000 U.S. jobs.
Boeing’s stock has climbed 69.4 percent over the year, as of Nov. 24, making it one of the best performers in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. While its shares have soared, Boeing’s new orders and backlog have grown. The company reported a backlog valued at nearly half a trillion dollars, which includes orders of nearly 5,700 commercial aircraft.
“The backlog is healthy and near all-time highs which supports the margin expansion narrative,” Morgan Stanley Analyst Rajeev Lalwani wrote in a note.
Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenberg has developed a rapport with the president that was not there from the beginning. Last December, Trump criticized the company for its “out of control” costs in developing a new Air Force One aircraft.
Muilenberg credited that moment for opening up the channels of communication with the president. “We’ve got a voice at the table,” he told analysts in a call in February.
He stayed mum when Trump made controversial statements around the Charlottesville rally, and he remained on the president’s business council while other chief executives exited.
Boeing has since won a $600 million contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop the new fleet of the Air Force One and it is also closing in on a deal for a $62 billion missile system with the U.S. government.
Perhaps the biggest sign of Boeing’s good graces with the president was when the Commerce Department said that it would impose a 219 percent tariff on Bombardier’s C-Series jets after rival Airbus made a deal to acquire a majority stake of Bombardier’s program.
Though the company is touted by the president for bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., Boeing has laid off hundreds of workers in the past year. This is in stark contrast to Trump’s appeal to Boeing’s South Carolina plant workers in February. He said that “jobs is one of the primary reason I’m standing here today as your President, and I will never, ever disappoint you.”
While American workers may not benefit from Boeing’s deals, it’s clear Boeing will.