By Alwyn Scott
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co <BA.N> said on Wednesday it had booked firm orders for 80 of its 737 MAX 8 aircraft, valued at $8.8 billion at list prices, upping its 2016 tally but leaving it short of its goal.
The orders mean the world's biggest plane maker clinched at least 536 net jetliner sales last year compared with its target of selling as many commercial jets as it delivers, a total it puts between 745 and 750. Through November, Boeing had delivered 681 planes.
Boeing's order tally could climb again on Friday, as the company posts its final update for 2016.
Investors watch orders closely as a way to gauge future production and revenue, since Boeing earns the bulk of its money when aircraft are delivered.
The company has orders equivalent to about seven years of production, but the majority are single-aisle 737 planes, and sales of its more expensive widebodies like the 777 remain sluggish.
Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg affirmed the company's overall order target in July. In December, he said Boeing would cut 777 output by 40 percent this year due to slow sales of widebody planes.
The orders announced Wednesday include 75 Boeing 737 MAX 8s for General Electric Co <GE.N> Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), valued at $8.25 billion at list prices.
GE supplies engines for the 737 MAX through CFM International, a joint venture with Safran SA <SAF.PA> of France. The latest sale means GECAS now has 170 Boeing 737 MAXs on order, more than any other leasing company, Boeing said.
The remaining orders, valued at $550 million, came from Travel Service, the largest airline company in the Czech Republic, which operates as SmartWings, Boeing said.
Through December 20, Boeing booked 470 net orders in 2016. Since then, it has announced orders for four 737-800s by Jet2.com. On Dec. 27, Delta Air Lines <DAL.N> said it was cancelling an order for 18 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Northwest Airlines placed the order before it merged with Delta.
Tallying the changes, Boeing's book-to-bill ratio is 0.79, below the target of 1.0.
A Boeing spokesman declined to comment, citing a quiet period before fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 25.
Boeing has received over 3,400 orders for the 737 MAX. The first 737 MAX is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2017.
Boeing's shares were up about 1 percent at $158.46. Up to Tuesday's close, the stock had risen 11.7 percent in the past 12 months, compared with a 12.2 percent rise in the S&P 500 index <.SPX>.
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott in Seattle and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay)