CHICAGO — Boeing Co., the world's second biggest commercial airplane manufacturer, reported a better-than-expected 38 percent jump in its first-quarter earnings, as it improved efficiency and recorded more orders for its aircraft.

The results, announced Wednesday by the Chicago-based aerospace and defense company, sent Boeing shares to a two-month high.

The aerospace company, which has several hundred employees in Utah, said it earned $1.2 billion, or $1.62 per share, for the quarter ending March 31. That compares with $877 million, or $1.13 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 4 percent to $16 billion from $15.37 billion a year ago.

Boeing shares climbed $3.53 to close at $82.09 Wednesday, after trading as high as $83.36 earlier in the session.