Wall Street expects Boeing Co to report a first-quarter profit in line with year-ago results on Wednesday, while investors will be on alert for confirmation that the long-delayed 787 Dreamliner is finally on schedule.

Obviously, I think everyone is focused on where we are with certification for the 787, said Kenneth Herbert, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

He said experts will also be interested in any expected changes to the production rate of the Dreamliner. Boeing has taken about 850 orders for the lightweight carbon composite aircraft.

The 787 is about three years behind its original schedule, but is set for first delivery in the third quarter of this year.

Aerospace industry experts also will be looking for clues as to whether Boeing will redesign its hot-selling 737 narrow body airliner or simply put a more fuel-efficient engine in the next version.

A redesigned 737 would save more fuel but would take longer to bring to market. Boeing has said it may share its direction this summer.

Analysts expect Boeing to report a first-quarter profit of 70 cents per share, unchanged from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue is seen at $15.13 billion.

Boeing, which competes with EADS unit Airbus, splits its business almost evenly between commercial airplanes and defense products, but the stock tends to track commercial orders and deliveries more closely.

Boeing said this month it delivered 104 commercial aircraft in the first quarter, including 87 737s, four 767 widebodies and 13 777s. Aircraft manufacturers only get paid on delivery, usually at least 18 months after purchase.

The commercial airplane industry is recovering from a global economic downturn that saw airlines curb orders in recent years.

The company is due to release its earnings at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) on Wednesday.

Shares of Boeing, a Dow Jones industrial average component, have risen about 15 percent since the beginning of 2011.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Gary Hill)