Shares of Boeing (BA) are down nearly 4% in today’s session as of this writing on news of a fatal crash of one of the company’s 737 jets in China. Any plane crash which results in fatalities is obviously a tragedy, and our hearts go out to all the victims and their families. While it’s hard to pivot to the market-related implications of these types of events, investors in Boeing and related companies are obviously interested in how these types of events, whether due to mechanical or other issues, will impact their investments. Today’s crash involved one of the company’s 737-800 planes and not the 737-MAX (the variant which was involved in crashes in 2018 and 2019). At this point, there are no details regarding the cause of the crash, but details will likely be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead.
In the chart below, we show the chart of BA since the start of 2000 and include red dots indicating each time that there has been a fatal incident involving a 737 (any generation of the plane). There have been a total of three dozen incidents internationally prior to today, and historically, these past events have not had any consistent impact on the performance of BA stock.
That being said, the immediate reaction in today’s session is set to rank pretty high up on the list of worst declines after a crash involving a 737. Below we show the daily percent change of BA in the first session after a 737 variant had a fatal incident. As might be expected, the 737-MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 were the two worst single-day declines for the stock of these instances with drops of 6.59% and 5.33%, respectively. The Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 crash in 2009 ranks as the next largest drop of 4.32%. In general, since the 737 MAX issues surfaced, on news of any fatal incident involving 737s, investors have been quick to sell first and ask questions later.
The 737 Next Generation (abbreviated 737NG) which includes the 737-600, 700, 800, and 900 variants is the generation that Boeing produced from 1996 and ceased assembly of in 2019 as the company’s production switched to the 737 MAX. Of the 737NG generation, the 800 variant (the variant involved in today’s crash) is the most common. Given this, in the table below, we show those fatal incidents involving the 800 series since 2000 as well as the two MAX crashes given their importance in recent years. This was the seventh fatal incident involving this plane without any survivors.
Boeing’s stock has mostly seen a negative reaction in response to these incidents and even though the next week has typically seen the stock rebound, performance over the next one and three months, especially since the issues with the MAX began, have tended to be followed by declines. Of course, each of these incidents has a fair degree of nuance to each one. For example, there are numerous reasons as to why these crashes occurred, and the majority had nothing to do with an inherent flaw in the BA aircraft. Whereas the 737-MAX problems were accredited to a design flaw, and thus are more directly negative for Boeing, many of the other incidents were on account of the flight crew or pilot error. Additionally, there is also the issue of poor timing like the early 2020 instances which lined up with the COVID crash. In other words, the weak performance following these crashes had more to do with factors outside of the crashes themselves. Again, any crash, whatever the cause, is a tragedy, but from a market perspective, it’s important to differentiate between the cause behind them. Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options.