The FAANG stocks — Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc., which have all generated a lot of buzz this year — can take a seat in coach class because the biggest gainer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year has outperformed the lot, even though it isn’t a Silicon Valley darling but an old-economy company with origins dating back to 1916.
Boeing Co. /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA +0.15% , the commercial airliner maker and defense contractor, enjoyed an 89.4% surge in its stock price in 2017, leaving the next biggest gainer, fellow old-economy company Caterpillar Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203434128/composite CAT +0.18% , in the dust with a mere 69.9% gain.
Despite a struggle of late, Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -0.41% took fourth place with a 46.1% gain after Visa Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203660239/composite V -0.33% barely surpassed it on the last trading day of the year. Those two were followed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207374728/composite WMT -0.28% , McDonald’s Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203508018/composite MCD -0.13% and Home Depot Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208081807/composite HD -0.47% , which all climbed more than 41%.
The other FAANG stocks managed gains that were certainly not exactly shabby. Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.42% gained 56% for the year, Facebook tacked on 53.4%, Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX +0.24% rose 55.1% and Alphabet /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +0.15% /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +0.06% added 32.9% and 35.6% to its two classes of stock. The overall Dow index /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.28% rose 25.7%, while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.11% gained 20%.
As the chart shows, Boeing’s stock climbed consistently through the year to notch a series of records, buoyed by better-than-expected earnings, including a second-quarter report that so impressed investors it sent the stock up almost 10% in a single session.
Boeing topped consensus expectations for a sixth consecutive quarter when it reported third-quarter earnings in October, after delivering a record 202 commercial airliners. Its backlog stood at 5,659 aircraft at the end of September, equal to about six years of deliveries.
The company raised its full-year guidance and in December announced new shareholder-friendly actions, including a higher dividend and a stock-buyback program valued at up to $18 billion.
Boeing has benefited from the current upswing in aircraft demand, driven by increased air-passenger demand in Asia where discount carriers are busy increasing capacity. The company has also been boosted by cost-cutting measures, introduced by Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, that have propped up margins.
The company has high hopes for its new global services division, which includes crucial aftermarket services for its airline customers, and is expected to generate $50 billion in revenue within five to 10 years.
Meanwhile, increased military spending against a rocky geopolitical backdrop has provided another boost, as has the tax bill that President Donald Trump signed into law on Dec. 22. Trump’s antitrade rhetoric during his campaign and in the early days of his presidency had raised concerns at Boeing, as had his threat to shutter the Export-Import Bank, a lender to Boeing customers that is sometimes called “Boeing’s Bank.”