GATX

(Photo: William C. Vantuono)

Leasing Improvements May Be Unsustainable

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE: Ah, the summer doldrums. While many were hoping for carefree days and a return to normalcy, sadly, the world continues to fret and struggle with the coronavirus and its Delta variant. However, in the shadows of this looming global crisis, the world of North American rail is all atwitter with political activity and other news-grabbing headlines.

Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl

Cowen Surveys Find ‘Encouraging’ Shipper Business Outlook

Two first-quarter 2021 surveys of rail shippers on pricing and business outlook as well as equipment needs conducted by Cowen and Company analysts Jason Seidl (Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor), Matt Elkott and Elliot Alper indicate that, compared with the previous quarter, Class I railroad customers are anticipating somewhat higher rate increases, and a slight decline in new railcar demand.

“Despite difficult market conditions at Rail North America, outstanding efforts by our commercial team enabled us to maintain fleet utilization above 98% throughout the year,” GATX President and CEO Brian A. Kenney said during a quarterly earnings announcement.

GATX 4Q20: ‘Some Initial Recovery Signs’

Chicago-based GATX Corp. has reported fourth-quarter 2020 net income from continuing operations of $17.8 million, or $0.50 per diluted share, compared with fourth-quarter 2019’s $42.1 million, or $1.18 per diluted share. For full-year 2020, net income from continuing operations was $150.2 million, or $4.24 per diluted share, vs. the prior year’s $180.8 million or $4.97 per diluted share.

Trinity, NS, GATX, G&W, Watco Form RailPulse JV

Five major rail industry companies—Trinity Industries, Norfolk Southern, GATX, Genesee & Wyoming and Watco Cos.—have entered into a joint venture called RailPulse that is “expected to accelerate rail modal transformation through the advancement of GPS technology and other telematics across the North American railcar fleet.”

The Rail Pulse platform will help shippers, car owners/lessors and railroads better manage consists, incidents and maintenance.

Monitoring North America’s Rail Pulse

Norfolk Southern, Genesee & Wyoming, Watco Companies, GATX Corp. and TrinityRail are developing a telematics platform for railcars to provide real-time car location and condition/health monitoring data. Called “Rail Pulse,” it will help shippers, car owners/lessors and railroads better manage consists, incidents and maintenance. Rollout is expected by year-end 2022.

Takeaways From Cowen’s 2Q20 Rail Equipment Survey

“Order expectations by the shipper sub-group of railcar buyers were mixed. While a smaller percentage expects to order railcars, the certainty level about ordering has increased. Among railcar suppliers, we favor Trinity for the flexibility of its manufacturing/leasing model, and Greenbrier for its international diversification and cost cutting. GATX’s lease terms offer it some protection.”