Dying in an airliner crash has got to be one of the worst ways to go. Sadly, my mind travels into the realm of the macabre when I think about Boeing (NYSE:BA). Two high-profile crashes involving a malfunctioning system designed, ironically, to protect against accidents delivered a PR nightmare to the company. It also cast a dark cloud on Boeing stock.
In the aftermath of the first crash involving Lion Air Flight 610, enough questions existed to confuse ultimate liability. Did the airplane manufacturer screw up with their critical software components? Or did Lion Air’s crew inappropriately tamper with the doomed flight’s sensors and associated hardware?
The ambiguity provided speculators enough reason to spike up the Boeing stock price.
But when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 also went down in similar circumstances to Flight 610, the party was over. When Boeing presented software updates to the now maligned and grounded 737 Max 8 jet, management essentially admitted responsibility. But Congressional hearings also revealed shocking levels of incompetence and greed within federal oversight agencies, and news came out later that the crash may have been linked to a bird strike. Nevertheless, BA stock crumbled on these bearish developments.
Perhaps the most common idea here is to avoid the plane manufacturer altogether. However, bad news typically winds itself down, especially for otherwise fundamentally solid companies. Notably, the Boeing stock price has moved up significantly on hopes that the 737 Max will resume normal operations.
Global air-transportation regulators are meeting in Texas to discuss this issue. Naturally, contrarians are surrounding BA stock, eyeballing a potential move higher. I’m not sure if this latest tidbit is enough to make the case for the embattled organization. However, these three points are:
Boeing Stock Price Benefits from a Duopoly
Possibly the biggest reason not to abandon BA stock permanently is that the underlying company enjoys a duopoly. When it comes to large jetliner manufacturers, only two names exist: Boeing and Airbus (OTCMKTS:EADSY). That duopoly will almost surely stay in place unless a catastrophic incident occurs.
Some might argue that the two 737 Max 8 crashes constitute such a catastrophe. Logically then, Airbus has an opportunity to steal core market share from Boeing. With persistence, the aforementioned duopoly can turn into a monopoly exclusively benefitting Airbus.
Practically speaking, that will never happen. Although Lion Air threatened to cancel its remaining Boeing orders and essentially make the switch to Airbus, other airliners won’t follow suit. Why? Because as our own James Brumley explained last year on an unrelated topic, plane manufacturers can’t just add capacity.
It takes many years to plan such accretive measures to airplane manufacturing. By that time, the PR crisis will have faded. Thus, Boeing stock avoids a bullet simply because of its industry’s size and complexity.
Boeing Is Too Big To Fail
It’s an argument that drives sound-money economists absolutely crazy. Nevertheless, it perfectly applies to BA stock, especially in this situation: Boeing is too big to fail.
The company is the second-biggest lobbyist in the U.S. in terms of political spending. Granted, that was part of the problem when the Federal Aviation Administration turned a blind eye on the 737’s defects. But on the flipside, it helps ensure that our government will do everything possible to give BA a leg up.
Because of this cozy relationship, Boeing receives federal contracts even if Airbus provides the better deal. Let’s also not forget that BA is a significant defense play. When presidents, service members and executives depend daily on your product, you’re unlikely to collapse, even under extreme pressure.
Barrier to Entry Protects BA Stock
When Papa John’s (NASDAQ:PZZA) founder John Schnatter uttered an awful slur last year, the ensuing controversy wrecked the company’s equity. Unfortunately for those charged with bringing Papa John’s back to a positive light, pizza making is a low-cost industry.
If I had to sink my life savings into either PZZA or BA stock, I’d pick the latter without hesitation. At the end of the day, airline manufacturing is a prohibitively expensive operation. Moreover, it requires decades of aeronautical experience to build trust with client corporations.
Here’s the thing: Boeing definitely suffers the worst optics in my comparison. Papa John’s ousted founder offended people. Boeing indirectly killed people. Yet it’s incredibly easy for customers to switch pizza preferences. Switching aircraft suppliers is an entirely different ballgame.
Admittedly, the idea of investing in Boeing stock can hurt your moral sensibilities. It’s akin to giving tax breaks exclusively to rich people. But if you strip away the emotions, the bullish argument narrowly outweighs the countering view.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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