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TheStreet Open House

Coal's Demise Hurts Eastern Railroads

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Lindsey Bell interviews Jim Cramer regarding Norfolk Southern's coal dependency. A full transcript appears below:

Lindsey Bell:
Norfolk Southern preannounced last night that they were going to miss estimates because of a decline in coal production.

Jim Cramer:
Right. And some other stuff. Yeah.

Lindsey Bell:
Take this with FedEx, I mean, how's that make you feel about the economy?

Jim Cramer:
Well, look...you can't be bullish about the economy. If there was a stock that was the economy, I wouldn't be a buyer of it. If there was a stock that was the employment index, I wouldn't be a buyer of it -- but that's not what we're trading...not what we're investing in. What we're investing in is good companies that have good yield, that can grow that dividend over time, and Norfolk Southern doesn't have that. It's got a low dividend not a raised dividend...a big buyback. I don't really like the buybacks. They haven't worked -- but Norfolk Southern...you never want to look through an index Lindsey. You don't want to say...listen...but the transports, they didn't think of coal when they thought of it but coal is the way of a rail. That's what they ship. You can't move it by truck.

It's been the bedrock of Norfolk Southern...bedrock of CSX...and coal's going away, as a fuel, in this country. It's still going to be used in China and India. They're going to export it but that's not the base of the market. There's a remarkable transformation, in this country, away from coal as the baseline fuel. It had always been that it was supposed to never be replaced. The EPA and the price of natural gas has made it so that you're not going to get the cyclical comeback in coal that people think. It's secular declined and that means Norfolk Southern was priced too high.

Lindsey Bell:
Can they diversify away from coal or maybe China, as a rebound there, can save them?

Jim Cramer:
If you think that, then Union Pacific's better because of West coal.

Lindsey Bell:
Okay.

Jim Cramer:
Just as natural gas fell from ten to two to three, coal became a fuel that was much more expensive because the EPA made it more expensive for you to use. When Union Pacific opened, it went to 120 from 123. It bounced back to 122. Union Pacific is the one I have my eye on because I think they have a much broader product portfolio and therefore, it's safer to own.

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