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The Boeing Company : Boeing Plans To Return 80% Of Cash To Shareholders

05/22/2013 | 10:46am US/Eastern

Boeing Co.'s (BA) top executives say it plans to return around 80% of its free cash to shareholders, aiming to keep its research and development spending considerably lower over the next decade compared to the significantly delayed and over budget 787 Dreamliner.

Chief financial officer Greg Smith said that the return in the form of dividends and stock buybacks to its investors won't, however, dent the balance of around $11 billion in free cash the company holds.

Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney told Wall Street analysts at its annual investor day that the company wants to shrink record backlogs down and deliver jets to customers sooner and increase cash back to shareholders, as it evaluates production rate increases on its 787 and single-aisle 737s.

Mr. McNerney wants "less worshipping [the backlog of orders], more converting it" with higher production.

Boeing is evaluating the launch of two new wide-body products, a third 787 model and significantly updated 777X, both of which, along side its 737 Max jet, would not reach the research and development levels over the next decade, compared to the all-new 787s initial development, said Mr. McNerney.

The company is resuming share buybacks in 2013, after a four year hiatus, with plans spend between $1.5 to $2 billion this year.

Boeing currently aims to build 10 787s per month by years end, with plans to accelerate 737 production to 42 per month in 2014.

Write to Jon Ostrower at Jon.Ostrower@wsj.com

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