This Stock's Big Gains Could Point to Strong Economic Growth Ahead

Greenbrier  (GBX) shares rose for the second consecutive day as investors cheered the railcar maker's quarterly results.

On Wednesday the company reported fiscal second-quarter earnings of $34.5 million, or $1.09 per share, topping the FactSet-compiled average analyst estimate of 84 cents by over 30%.

Greenbrier's $566.3 million revenue in the period, topped FactSet's average an analyst estimate of $522 million.

The company expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.25 to $3.75 per share, with revenue in the range of $2 billion to $2.4 billion, it said.

Much of the nation's raw materials and finished goods ship by rail and any increase in demand for rail infrastructure can be a leading indicator of economic growth.

KeyBanc analysts raised their price target on Greenbrier shares early Thursday, to $60 from $50 and kept its Overweight rating and said that the earnings report signals a potential shift in the railcar cycle.

John Reese, writing for TheStreet last week, points out that over nearly two centuries, railroad companies have been shipping stalwarts through market ups and downs. Keith Schoonmaker, Morningstar's director of industrials equity research, says, "It's this constant presence that makes railroads an ideal holding for long-term investors."

And, Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the shares to buy from neutral.

Greenbrier shares added 2% in early Thursday trade after adding about 15% on Wednesday.

Other rail infrastructure companies rose too, as, Trinity Industries (TRN) rose and GATX (GATX) each rose about 1%.

Also on Wednesday, Greenbrier, and Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance agreed to expand their current relationship in North America in a deal worth an estimated $1 billion.

The deal calls for Mitsubishi to build it railcar fleet to 25,000 from its current 5,000 by 2020, and to buy all of its new rolling stock exclusively from Greenbrier through 2023.

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