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The Greenbrier Companies
Despite escalating costs and pandemic-related challenges in the second fiscal-quarter ending Feb. 28, 2022, The Greenbrier Companies achieved its “fifth consecutive quarter with a book-to-bill ratio exceeding 1.0x on orders approaching $1 billion,” President and CEO Lorie Tekorius reported on April 6. “Greenbrier ended the quarter with backlog at levels last seen six years ago.”
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The open-top gondola car is one of the oldest freight car types. The first gondola cars in North America were developed in the 1830s, and used primarily to haul coal. Early designs were flat cars with wooden sides added; they were small—30 feet or less in length, and about 13 tons or less in weight. Now, nearly two centuries after the first gondola turned a wheel, this ubiquitous car type has reached a design pinnacle through a collaboration of The Greenbrier Companies, Inc., United States Steel Corp. and Norfolk Southern.
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The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. has received new orders for 5,500 railcars valued at more than $530 million during its fourth fiscal quarter that began on June 1, 2021.
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.
Greenbrier’s fiscal second-quarter 2021 financial results (the company begins its fiscal year on Sept. 1 of the prior year) are based on a $2.5 billion railcar backlog of 24,900 as of Feb. 28.
Rail shippers in fourth-quarter 2020 expected price increases of 3.2% (up 10bps sequentially), and their sub-group of railcar buyers raised order expectations modestly, according to two surveys conducted by Cowen and Company analysts Jason H. Seidl (Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor), Matt Elkott and Elliot Alper.
At Cowen and Company, we are revising our transportation OEM and machinery earnings estimates for fourth-quarter 2020 and 2021, and introducing our 2022 estimates; updating our North American Class 8 production forecast; and fine-tuning our railcar supply demand model. What are we seeing? Gradually improving supply-side dynamics.