(Reuters) – JP Morgan analysts have given up on their long-term “overweight” call on Boeing Co <BA.N> shares, cutting their price target for the company by $160 to just $210 dollars in a note to clients on Thursday.
The bank, which now rates Boeing “neutral”, said the added hit from the coronavirus to airlines made it impossible to stick with its call that investors should wait out the grounding of the company’s 737 MAX planes this year.
Boeing said on Wednesday it was freezing new hiring and overtime except in certain critical areas to preserve cash, and the company is also moving to draw down funds from existing loan facilities as it battles the worst crisis in its history.
“Our desire to hang in with Boeing until the return of the 737 MAX has worked out poorly, both regarding the timeline for re-certification and now more importantly with the impact of COVID-19 on aircraft demand,” JPM analyst Seth M. Seifman said.
He said he still expects Boeing to be able to wade through the stressful time for airlines as well as manage its own balance sheet. His price target, while now Wall St’s lowest and $140 below the median of all major analysts, was still $21 above Wednesday’s closing prices.
Boeing shares fell 18% on Wednesday and are down 58% since the second of two fatal MAX crashes last March.
(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham and Anil D’Silva)