Boeing says its future is bright — despite the trade war

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Boeing is America’s biggest exporter, but it has managed to sidestep the trade war.

China is one of Boeing’s most important markets: The company estimates Chinese airlines will buy more than $1 trillion worth of passenger jets over the next 20 years. So far, Boeing has been basically spared in the trade dispute between the two countries, because a Chinese tariff on US aircraft doesn’t apply to most of the planes Boeing is now selling into China.

So it’s been business as usual at Boeing — and business is pretty good.

Strong growth in its defense business helped Boeing overcome slumping commercial aircraft sales in the third quarter, the company announced Wednesday. But Boeing said commercial plane profitability soared, and orders for new aircraft is strong: Boeing reported its commercial aircraft backlog grew to $413 billion.

Sales grew 4%, and profit soared 31% last quarter. Boeing's earnings per share -- closely watched by investors -- increased even more, because the company bought 7 million shares of its own stock during the quarter.

The company also raised its sales and profit outlook for the full year, sending Boeing's (BA) stock up 3.5%. Boeing is the priciest component of the Dow, so it helped lift the overall stock market higher Wednesday.

Still, the trade war remains a concern. The trade dispute between the United States and China has continued to escalate with the threat of additional tariffs looming.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told CNN last month that he's concerned about the escalating US-China trade war, but he believes the Trump administration is trying to be supportive of the aerospace industry in its talks with China.

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