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Old October 23rd, 2008, 05:15 AM   #21
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INTERVIEW - Norfolk Southern CEO sees "pricing momentum"

DETROIT, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Norfolk Southern Corp's freight prices look solid through the second quarter of 2009 and should remain robust beyond that point, CEO Wick Moorman said on Wednesday.

"In this kind of economic environment, we are always a little cautious," Moorman told Reuters in a telephone interview. "That said, we still think our service is attractively priced, and we are confident we can maintain pricing momentum."

He added that "not much is likely to happen" in the U.S. auto industry in 2009 and said he was hopeful the slumping U.S. housing sector has "approached a bottom."

"When it will start to climb out the other side is unclear," Moorman said.

The chief executive spoke to Reuters a day after the No. 4 U.S. railroad announced a better-than-expected third-quarter profit. Solid pricing offset weakness in the housing and automotive sectors and an overall weakening of the U.S. economy.

Moorman said although housing and automotive remained a "drag on earnings," the railroad's coal and agricultural freight business remains robust.

And while international intermodal services are down, Moorman said domestic U.S. shipments were benefiting from a shift from truck to train.

Intermodal services haul finished consumer goods in standardized containers that can be interchanged between truck, ship and train. Hauling goods by train is cheaper than by truck, and railroads have picked up some long-haul business from trucking companies in recent months thanks in large part to high gas prices.

Analysts hailed Norfolk Southern's quarterly results, which were posted after the stock market closed on Tuesday.

"In our opinion, Norfolk Southern remains the best operating U.S. railroad, led by its ... continued pricing power and large exposure to coal, intermodal and grain," Merrill Lynch analyst Ken Hoexter wrote in a note to clients.

Barclays Capital analyst Gary Chase wrote in a research note that "we see upside to fourth-quarter earnings for the rails."

But he added that he was "concerned about the longer-term ability to increase pricing and sustain earnings growth in a weakening economic environment."

In midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Norfolk Southern shares were up $1.48, or 2.75 percent, at $55.35.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 06:39 PM   #22
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Union Pacific 3rd-qtr profit leaps, beats analysts' estimates, on higher prices, productivity
23 October 2008

NEW YORK (AP) - Union Pacific says its third-quarter earnings jumped 32 percent on higher prices and better productivity.

The Omaha, Neb.-based railroad earned $703 million, or $1.38 per share, compared with $532 million, or $1 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue rose 16 percent, to $4.85 billion, from $4.19 billion a year earlier.

Thomson Reuters says analysts were expecting a profit of $1.30 per share on revenue of $4.74 billion.

Union Pacific Corp. says revenue jumped in five out of six commodity segments, led by energy and agricultural products. Revenue from automotive shipments fell 7 percent.

The company says higher fuel prices and hurricane damage were offset by higher prices.
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Old October 26th, 2008, 06:22 AM   #23
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Railroads stock fall with market despite better than expected results at Burlington Northern
24 October 2008

NEW YORK (AP) - Railroad stocks fell Friday along with the broader market despite Burlington Northern's better-than-expected results and upbeat view of the rest of the year.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., owner of the nation's second-largest freight railroad, released third-quarter results after the markets closed Thursday.

Still, Burlington and other freight railroads couldn't dodge the runaway selling that dragged the Dow Jones Industrial Average throughout most of Friday.

Burlington Northern shares lost $1.58 to close at $80; and shares of Union Pacific Corp., the nation's largest railroad, edged up 3 cents to end at $58.28.

Shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. lost $1.46, or 2.7 percent, to finish at $53.12; CSX Corp. shares shed $1.36, or 3.1 percent, to $42.38; and rail car manufacturer FreightCar America Inc. shares gave up $1.30, or 6.5 percent, to $18.60.

Burlington Northern said late Thursday that it expects freight revenue to grow between 8 and 10 percent and prices will remain firm in the fourth quarter despite a slight decline in freight volume.

But Chief Executive Matthew Rose declined to offer predictions about next year until January, citing uncertainty in the economy.
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Old January 21st, 2009, 03:33 PM   #24
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Goldman sees railroad volume to be even lower in 2009

Jan 20 (Reuters) - Rapid economic deceleration should drive 2009 volume of U.S. railroads even lower, Goldman Sachs said and removed Union Pacific Corp , the No. 1 U.S. railroad, from Americas conviction buy list.

"As the U.S. economy continues to deteriorate, so do the shipments of goods by rail," analyst David Feinberg wrote in a note to clients, while removing Canadian National Railway Co , Canada's largest railway, from Americas buy list. Canadian National will not be able to avoid challenges of lower volume growth despite its track record as best-in-class operator, the analyst said.

Feinberg forecast a 10.8 percent decline in industry volume growth, compared with his prior estimate of a 6.3 percent decline.

"Heading into the start of fourth-quarter earnings season, we expect railroad stocks to continue to underperform as visibility of a recovery in freight volume does not exist," Feinberg said.

The analyst also said he was more cautious about railroads' pricing power in 2009.

Investors will be more concerned about the sustainability of pricing in the face of deflationary cost pressure and rapidly deteriorating demand, he said.

Feinberg, however, remained "neutral" on the railroad industry, saying any signs of pricing power would be an "incremental positive relative to current investor expectations and could drive shares higher".

He removed Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp from Americas sell list, saying the No. 2 U.S. railroad's shares accurately reflect concerns over decline in volumes.

Feinberg added Kansas City Southern to the Americas conviction sell list and forecast that the company will have the worst 2009 organic volume among the Class 1 railroads.

Shares of Kansas City were down more than 10 percent, while those of Canadian National fell 8 percent in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Union Pacific shares were down almost 5 percent, while Burlington shares had shed more than 3 percent.
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 03:45 AM   #25
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Actually, the current method of freight delivery is very inefficient. Shipping via air for example involves going through a central hub (Memphis for Fed Ex) meaning a lot of fuel is wasted when shipping via rail is more direct and uses much less fuel.

And if the U.S. hadn't ripped out half of its train tracks over the past fourty years flexibility wouldn't be an issue.
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 04:22 PM   #26
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I didn't know that all those ripped out rails were likely to lead right doorstep of stores and retail all over the country. Trucks are an essential part of our society today, the question is not how many there "should be" but what distance each truck will travel.

Also the railroads were doing well before the slump as well given the higher gas prices. It was during the late 80's and 90's during the era of cheap fuel that trains had some of their worst years.
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Old January 23rd, 2009, 09:35 PM   #27
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Quote:
didn't know that all those ripped out rails were likely to lead right doorstep of stores and retail all over the country.
I think its more relevant to industry, which in fact often does have rail to its doorstep. In my town, we have a fairly modern warehouse district with some private spurs.

I think the US rail system needs a diverse network of producers and suppliers who ship trainloads to one another. If these lie at the ends of branch lines and you cut those tracks off thinking its best to save the main lines, your just killing off the traffic on the whole system.
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Old January 24th, 2009, 05:08 AM   #28
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Steel mills and ports have train tracks that run right up to them.

Eliminate the choke points (Chicago, LA) and shipping via freight clearly becomes the cost effective choice. Trains can ship more than trucks on less fuel.

America became a trucking country because of the power of the highway lobby. There is nothing intrinsically more efficient about shipping via truck.

Trucks are a danger on roadways.
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Old January 24th, 2009, 06:42 PM   #29
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Are there other large scale secondary ports that can handle the traffic? Is Long Beach the only real choice?
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Old January 28th, 2009, 05:58 PM   #30
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Norfolk Southern plans more employee furloughs as shipping demand remains weak
28 January 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Railroad operator Norfolk Southern Corp. said Wednesday it has reduced the number of its train and engine service employees by 6 percent in the last eight months through furloughs and a hiring slowdown, and more job cuts are likely.

Norfolk Southern said Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit rose 13 percent as higher shipping prices and lower fuel costs offset tumbling demand for goods.

The company has cut its train and engine service crew from a high of 12,380 in April to 11,622 as of last week, Chief Operating Officer Stephen Tobias said in a conference call with analysts. About 400 of those employees were furloughed and the rest of the reduction was the result of a hiring slowdown.

Norfolk Southern expects to furlough more train and engine employees -- including 100 in the next month. Tobias also said reductions in other areas are possible, such as mechanical, as engine crews are reduced.

Norfolk Southern has also reduced shifts at some terminals. It cut shifts at its Buckeye terminal in Columbus, Ohio, to one from three, and its Sheffield, Ala., terminal, now has two shifts instead of three. The company has also has fewer workers at its terminal in Reading, Pa.

Norfolk Southern also reduced the number of scheduled trains it operates by almost 44,000 and put 60 trains out of service as a result of deteriorating demand. The reductions began in October.

Norfolk Southern shares rose $1.50, or 4 percent, to $39.15 in morning trading.
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Old January 30th, 2009, 03:10 AM   #31
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I used to work with someone who had been in the shipping department of a large company. According to him shipping by rail is good for non-perishables and real bulk freight. Trucks are actually faster.
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Old January 30th, 2009, 05:02 AM   #32
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As I said, trucks are faster because freight rail is forced to use subpar, single track to ship goods and most of it goes through Chicago, which is a horrible chokepoint. Eliminate the chokepoints and add more track along existing corridors and shipping via rail becomes much more efficient.

The US has been building highways and tearing up railroad track over the past fifty years.
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 05:58 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by hoosier View Post
As I said, trucks are faster because freight rail is forced to use subpar, single track to ship goods and most of it goes through Chicago, which is a horrible chokepoint. Eliminate the chokepoints and add more track along existing corridors and shipping via rail becomes much more efficient.

The US has been building highways and tearing up railroad track over the past fifty years.
Canadian National completes acquisition of railway line around Chicago
2 February 2009

CHICAGO (AP) - Canadian National Railway Co. says it has completed its acquisition of a nearly 200-mile railway line encircling Chicago.

The closing on the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company was completed late Saturday.

In a statement Sunday, CN's CEO E. Hunter Harrison says the acquisition will drive new efficiencies and the deal is important to the Chicago area's economy.

The $300 million bid by Montreal-based company was heavily scrutinized, with many wondering if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board would accept the deal in spite of heavy political pressure not to.

Federal regulators approved the sale in December, despite vocal concerns over environmental impact and safety from many in Chicago suburbs.

The rail line encircles Chicago from Waukegan to Gary, Ind.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 05:41 AM   #34
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That line in question is mostly single track- double track it and you could take a lot of traffic off of the inner city Chicago railroads.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 06:50 AM   #35
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If I had my way, the entire rail network on the North American continent would be nationalized and given to state/provincial authorities, where they would be reborn as European-like public bodies. They would then rationalize the system (no more parallel railways competing) and promote efficiencies which can deliver more services.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 05:17 AM   #36
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If I had my way, the entire rail network on the North American continent would be nationalized and given to state/provincial authorities, where they would be reborn as European-like public bodies. They would then rationalize the system (no more parallel railways competing) and promote efficiencies which can deliver more services.
That would be ideal- but this is America you are talking about, politics trumps good policy in this country.
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Old February 7th, 2009, 07:27 AM   #37
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One can hope :P that the economic crisis forces CN, CP, UP, CSX, etc to the brink of bankruptcy and require a public bailout just like the banks and auto industry...
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Old February 7th, 2009, 06:52 PM   #38
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railways are a natural monopoly. it didn't make sense (from a macroeconomic perspective) to have them in private hands. the argument back then was to have the railways compete with the trucking industry. it just resulted in a powerful trucking industry, and a bunch of disparate yet still profitable rail routes.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 07:05 PM   #39
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Kansas City Southern reports first-quarter loss as economy cuts rail loads by 15 percent
30 April 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City Southern has reported a first-quarter loss as the struggling global economy reduces the size and number of railroad shipments.

The Kansas City-based company said Thursday it lost $7.5 million, or 8 cents per share, during the three months ending March 31. The company saw profits of $32.9 million, or 39 cents per share, during the same period a year ago.

Not including one-time charges, the company said it would have earned 6 cents per share, meeting the expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue during the quarter fell 23 percent to $346 million, below the $377.4 million expected by analysts. The company said rail volumes were down 15 percent for its U.S. and Mexican operations.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 06:00 PM   #40
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U.S. rail freight down 22.9 pct from year ago-AAR

WASHINGTON, May 21 (Reuters) - Freight traffic across North America slumped 23.2 percent in the week ended May 16 from the same week a year ago, including a 22.9 percent drop in U.S. rail freight, as a sluggish economy continued to drag rail shipments downward.

For the first 19 weeks of the year, North American rail freight was off 19.7 percent to 6.4 million car loads from the same 2008 period, the Association of American Railroads said in a weekly report.

Intermodal volume -- freight loaded into a container or truck trailer and then transported by train -- dropped 16.3 percent in North America from the first 19 weeks of 2008, the group said.

U.S. rail car loads fell 0.9 percent to 247,258 in the May 16 week from 249,576 carloads the prior week. Carloads were 25.3 percent below the year-ago week's 331,198 total.

Freight transported in trailers or containers on U.S. railways for the week ended May 16 was off 19.4 percent from a year ago to 188,435 trailers and containers combined, the association said. Container volume fell 14.1 percent while trailer volume plummeted 39.1 percent from a year ago.

U.S. carloads of all commodities that the association tracks, including the miscellaneous category of "all other carloads," fell from the year-ago week. Declines ranged from 10.2 percent for grain mill products to 69.5 percent for shipments of metallic ores.

U.S. freight transportation in the first 19 weeks of 2009 has reached an estimated 534.6 billion ton-miles, down 18.1 percent from 652.7 billion at this time a year earlier, the report said.

The ton-mile is a unit used by the association and represents one ton of freight hauled one mile.
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