updated 1/31/2007 4:51:59 PM ET 2007-01-31T21:51:59

Boeing Co. said Wednesday its 4th-quarter earnings more than doubled due largely to robust commercial airplane and defense system business.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, the airplane maker's net income was $989 million, or $1.29 per share, compared with $460 million, or 58 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding charges and other tax gains, Chicago-based Boeing said its adjusted earnings per share for the quarter were $1.16.

Fourth-quarter revenue climbed 26 percent to $17.5 billion, surpassing Wall street expectations.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings per share of 98 cents and $16.5 billion in revenue for the world's No. 2 commercial airplane maker.

"2006 was a very good year for Boeing," Chief Executive Jim McNerney said in a statement. "We achieved new records in revenue, cash flow and backlog, and overcame come meaningful challenges by focusing on improving productivity and meeting our commitments."

Boeing booked a record number of orders for new commercial planes, raising its year-end backlog to $250 billion, up 22 percent.

For the year, Boeing said its 2006 profit fell 14 percent to $2.2 billion, or $2.85 per share, from $2.6 billion or $3.20 per share in 2005. Its 2006 revenue was $61.5 billion, a 15 percent increase from $53.6 billion last year.

The company's Seattle-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes unit saw its fourth-quarter operating earnings double to $665 million from $330 million. The unit's revenue increased 37 percent to $7.6 billion, up from $5.5 billion. Meanwhile, operating margins grew nearly 3 points to 8.7 percent.

Defense sales grew 18 percent to $9.7 billion, up from $8.2 billion during the year-ago quarter.

Executives said the company is continuing to address issues with the weight of its much-anticipated 787 "Dreamliner," which is expected to begin flight tests this year. Boeing recently scrapped plans for a wireless entertainment system in the plane after struggling with regulatory approval and the extra weight of the program.

"Boeing continues to expect the 787 will be delivered on time and in accord with its contractual obligations," the company said.

Boeing boosted its 2007 earnings guidance, saying it expected to earn between $4.55 and $4.75 per share on revenue between $64.5 billion and $65 billion. The company said expanded margins and revenue growth would help it earn between $5.55 and $5.75 per share in 2008.

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