Boeing (BA) said Tuesday it received 196 orders for the 737 MAX jet in March. This order number is nicely up from 82 in February and just 4 in January. The customer list in March looks as to be expected and consistent with what has been reported, headlined by a 100 jet order from Southwest Airlines (LUV) , 32 from Alaska Airlines (ALK) , 25 from United Airlines (UAL) , and 24 from the private investment firm 777 partners.

Boeing also said it made 29 total deliveries in March, an improvement from 22 in February and 26 in January. Of the 29 delivered in the month, two were 787 Dreamliners. The 737 MAX may dominate the headlines but seeing the 787 officially end its roughly five-month delivery halt is positive news too. It's one less narrative that the Boeing bears can take hold ff.

For a full list of Boeing's orders and deliveries, please see the company website here.

As we have discussed previously, Boeing is not much of an earnings story right now because there are so many moving parts within the broader business. Due to the difficulty in predicting earnings, free cash flow has become the more closely monitored metric for general stock price direction. The main variable impacting free cash flow estimates is Boeing's ability to wind down its large inventory position and deliver aircrafts to customers. This latter event is when Boeing receives the bulk aircraft's price. But you can't deliver a plane if there isn't an order. As more orders come in and the pace of cancellations slows, we think free cash flow estimates will ultimately be revised higher and result in a higher stock price.

Shares of Boeing were drifting lower for most of the morning as the news around Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) COVID-19 vaccine has put pressure on many reopening sensitive names. However, BA lifted higher as soon as the order and delivery news hit the wires as the data in March points to more signs that Boeing has reached an inflection point in terms of net orders and deliveries. Although Boeing is not immune to the negative headline or two (like what we saw Friday in our Alert here) we think those related declines will prove to be long-term buying opportunities for one of our favorite "reopening trade" ideas and we reiterate our ONE rating.