On May 19, we hosted a call with a noted transportation attorney to discuss the latest news surrounding the proposed merger involving KSU/CP/CNI. The STB decision on May 17 indicates more caution surrounding voting trusts; CNI must show that the trust keeps a level playing field. The key for CNI will be that public benefits outweigh harms.
Cowen and Company
Takeaways from Cowen and Company’s recent Rail Equipment Webinar show that locomotive upgrades remain solid, as traffic growth continues. Elevated inquiries for newly built railcars should begin to translate into orders gradually, despite the steel premium. Lessors are well-positioned as freight demand rises, railcar supply decreases and new builds fall short of replacement levels this year.
Railcar demand is on the rise, but so is the price of steel, which Cowen and Company estimates has put a 15%-25% premium on newly built equipment.
At Union Pacific’s Investor Day, where achievements in operational efficiency, benefits of PSR implementation, shareholder returns and financial outlook were discussed, management predicted that the railroad will achieve a 55% OR (operating ratio) by 2022. As a result, Cowen and Company modestly adjusted its 2022 assumptions.
Wabtec Corp. reported a “strong operational quarter” and a position of “profitable long-term growth,” due to continued signs of industry recovery, a modestly growing backlog, and its order pipeline.
As part of the NEARS (Northeast Association of Rail Shippers) virtual conference, Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl hosted Canadian Pacific President and CEO Keith Creel in a “fireside chat” to discuss the proposed merger between CP and Kansas City Southern.
A Cowen and Company “snap” railroad shipper survey conducted over a one-day period indicates that CN “is likely to have a more difficult time with shippers supporting its proposed acquisition of Kansas City Southern. This compares to a more favorable view by shippers of Canadian Pacific acquiring KCS in our most recent survey.”
Due in large part to weather-related network disruptions, Union Pacific’s first-quarter 2021 financials lagged those of the prior-year period, but North America’s largest Class I expressed confidence that business will improve, and affirmed its guidance.
“The strong demand environment, particularly across bulk, merchandise and domestic intermodal, coupled with our commitment to the foundations of Precision Scheduled Railroading enabled our success in the first quarter,” Canadian Pacific (CP) President and CEO Keith Creel reported during the merger-bound railroad’s earnings announcement.
CSX, the second Class I railroad to report first-quarter 2021 financial results, earned $706 million, or $0.93 per share—down 8.31% from the 2020 period’s $770 million, or $1.00 per share.