This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Railroads Could Telegraph Rebound

Stocks in this article: BNI NSC UNP

Could it be that railroad shipments, considered a leading economic indicator, are sending a positive signal?

Railroad CEOs, speaking Wednesday at the JPMorgan transportation conference, said only that conditions are not getting worse. But Drew Robertson, who has compiled statistics on rail shipments for two dozen years, sees it differently.

Looking at cyclical products like crushed stone, lumber, iron ore, chemicals and coke as leading indicators among the most common railroad shipments, Robertson sees improvement.

"It's not horns and hats time yet for the economy or the railroad industry, but evidently things are coming back a little bit," he says. "It's less worse than it used to be."

For instance, chemical shipments are down from 2008, but have been better the last few weeks than they were earlier in the year. Lumber is slightly better than it was a year ago. In general, cyclical traffic has rebounded since mid-January, more than can be explained by its normal seasonal bounce.

The trends can be seen clearly at railfax.transmatch.com, a Web site maintained by Robertson, who heads New York-based transportation consulting firm Atlantic Systems. In particular, the four-week rolling average trends for baseline and cyclical traffic are up, while intermodal traffic continues to trend down. In interviews in 2007 and again in 2008, Robinson, referring to the data, noted sharp declines in U.S. industrial production.

Wick Moorman, CEO of Norfolk Southern (NSC), described January and February as "anemic" and said: "We certainly don't see any change in that in the short term, although we do not right now see any continuing deterioration year-over-year."

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs