Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greenbrier fourth-quarter earnings show some strength

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Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Greenbrier Cos. Inc. Thursday reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter net profit fell 9.3% to $6.7 million, or 37 cents a share, from $7.4 million, or 45 cents a share, a year earlier. Earnings for the quarter included a tax benefit of 37 cents a share as well as severance costs, write-offs, and other charges of 14 cents a share.

Revenue for the quarter fell 36% to $230.4 million, but earnings per share beat analyst estimates predicting a loss of one cent a share for the quarter, based on projected revenue of $246.3 million.

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The company said new railcar deliveries of 900 units were one-half of the year-ago amount, and noted it still is in negotiations with Fairfield, Conn.-based General Electric Co., which seeks to scale back or cancel deliveries under a long-term contract. Roughly 85% of the Greenbrier’s order backlog is subject to the GE order.

For the full fiscal year, the company reported a net loss of $54.1 million, or $3.21 per diluted share, vs. prior year’s net earnings of $19.5 million, or $1.19 per diluted share. Revenue of $1.0 billion was down 21% from the previous year, “reflecting the impact of the economic recession on all business segments,” the company said.

Greenbrier President and CEO William A. Furman hailed the improvement logged during the fourth quarter, saying, “Stronger performance in our Manufacturing and Leasing & Services segments and a favorable tax rate led to a sequential improvement in our quarterly operating results. Our diversification efforts continue to pay off and reduce the effects of the economic downturn.

“Yet the markets in which we operate remain challenging,” Furman said. “For example, year-to-date rail loadings in North America are down about 18%, and a significant portion of the entire North American railcar fleet remains idle.  In this environment, we continue to scale our operations and control costs, manage the company for cash flow and liquidity, and prudently deploy capital.  During the quarter, we paid down net debt by an additional $35 million.”

Just after noon Thursday, shares of Greenbrier were up almost 3.6% in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.