Railroad Week in Review:
First Quarter 2019
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Week ending February 8
GWR adjusted Q4 net income $55.6 million, up 14.3%, on consolidated revenues of $575.6 million; total revenues in North America (common carrier freight, contract operations, other) increased 5.6% to 338.0 million. AAR revenue units were up a mere 1.2% through Week 5 (February 2); Week 5 by itself has total vols down 9.2%. Anacostia Rail Holdings and Global Information Systems co-host the second "Short Line Railroads - GIS Opportunities Workshop" in Overland Park, Kansas, Jan 30. KCS appoints Sameh Fahmy to EVP, Precision Scheduled Railroading.
Week ending February 1
CN wraps up the official Class I 4Q earnings call season Tuesday; freight revenues increase 17% to C$3.6 billion on 1.5 million revenue units, up 5%. Tom Wadewitz at UBS tells us, "Week 4 industry-specific trends are opaque" and why. Mantle Ridge sells 2.8 million of its CSX shares at $64.42 each for a $38 billion payday; another block is pending. The auto business could be softening in 2019; Daniel Ruiz of Blinders Off Research, a specialist in auto trends, tweets. RJ Corman reorganizes Commercial Development team.
Week ending January 25
Canadian Pacific reported fourth quarter revenue of C$2 billion, up 18% on a 5% increase in revenue units; system RPU gained 13% to C$2767. Union Pacific freight revenue increased 6% to $5.4 billion on 2.2 million revenue units, up 3%; system RPU gained 2% to $2403. Norfolk Southern revenue gained 9% to $2.9 billion on 2.0 million revenue units with a 5% RPU gain.
Week ending January 18
CSX opens the 4Q2018 earnings season with total revenue units up three percent in the quarter; Foote says the merchandise business is the area that most benefits from the change in the operating model. KCS reported record fourth quarter revenues of $694 million, an increase of five percent, on 588,200 revenue units, essentially unchanged; continuing its PSR initiative, using those characteristics and disciplines best suited to the KCS network. GWR December same-store carloads increase 8.4 percent. Watco initiates short-haul frac sand shuttle service in west Texas.
Week ending January 11
Union Pacific names Jim Vena Chief Operating Officer; shares jump several points after-hours on the news. Delaware Lackawanna Railroad rings up its second consecutive year of record carloads. Seaview Transp Co in Rhode Island benefits from $3 mm federal grant. Watco and Oaktree Capital create strategic partnership. Twitter thread on auto sector.
Week ending January 4
The focus this year is on the economic drivers of railroad success or failure; looking for the railroad and commodity trends and events that will determine the direction of the shortline industry. Are we getting to the point where earnings growth depends more on rate hikes goosing ORs, or on share buy-backs goosing earnings per share, not because we're moving more freight? Trends from the just-released AAR Railroad Facts 2018 edition for revenue ton-miles, operating revenue, and operating income; more money, less work?