On this day in economic and business history…
The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) in 1987. That year, the company posted revenue of $15.4 billion with a $480 million net income. The following decade was quite eventful for The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA): it engaged in development of the B-2 stealth bomber, launched the 777 jetliner, became the prime contractor of the International Space Station, and acquired the better part of erstwhile government-contracting competitor Rockwell International. However, the high point of The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)’s post-Dow decade took place on Aug. 1, 1997, when the company merged with McDonnell Douglas.
First announced in December of the previous year, shortly after The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA)’s acquisition of Rockwell’s units was finalized, the $13.3 billion stock-for-stock deal consummated several years of stop-and-go merger talks. McDonnell moved toward merging after deciding to cancel its super-jumbo development program, which effectively ended the company’s run as a commercial jet manufacturer. Its decision was all but made after it lost out on a massive contract to develop the military’s Joint Strike Fighter, which evolved into a trillion-dollar boondoggle now known as the F-35.
In the year the merger was finalized, The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) would report total revenue of $45.8 billion but a net loss of $180 million. All those deals had taken their toll on the bottom line. Boeing’s post-McDonnell-merger decade saw a lot of positive momentum, though: By the end of 2007, Boeing’s revenue had grown to $66.4 billion, and it was reporting $4.1 billion in net income. The augmented aircraft-builder even found a purpose for the McDonnell super-jumbo, which now flies as the Boeing 717. The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) sold 156 of these jets before ending production in 2006.
Let’s put the top down
The first “Jeep” rolled off an assembly line in Ohio on Aug. 1, 1941. The plucky all-purpose vehicle was destined for military use in World War II, and it was at first developed by the Willys-Overland Company under ridiculously time-crunched conditions — only 49 days passed between the Army’s first prototype request and Willys’ final construction. This rapid development time earned Willys the contract, and about 640,000 Jeeps rolled off assembly lines over the course of the war.
The Jeep’s rugged design and all-terrain nature made it an intriguing commercial vehicle as well. After the war, Willys set about developing a civilian Jeep for farmers, ranchers, and other outdoorsy types. However, surplus wartime Jeeps made sales a bit tricky for a few years. Kaiser Motors bought Willys in 1950, and American Motors acquired the Jeep operations from Kaiser two decades later. Many different Jeep models were produced throughout this time, but they all tended to retain the look of the original Jeeps, with their iconic wide-set round headlights and vertical grill slits. American Motors was eventually sold to Chrysler, which continues to produce Jeeps to this day. With more than seven decades of history behind it, Jeep is the granddaddy of all sport utility vehicles, and with well more than 3 million Jeeps produced since 1945, it is also one of the best-selling SUVs of all time.