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How Did Canadian National Measure up to Canadian Pacific in Carloads?

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Canadian National’s carloads

Canadian National Railway (CNI) recorded a 1.4% fall in total railcars in the week ended August 6, 2016. The company hauled ~57,000 railcars that week, as compared to more than 57,000 units one year previously. Carloads excluding coal and coke rose by 2.3% for the reported week of 2016.

CNI’s fall in overall volumes was one-fourth that of CP’s decline in the same category. Starting in 2016, the decline in CNI’s overall carloads was higher than the fall reported by CP.

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Is coal important for Canadian National?

Canadian National’s coal including coke carloads fell by 24.9% in the week ended August 6, 2016. The company moved 5,900 coal and petroleum coke railcars that week, as compared to ~8,000 units in the corresponding week of 2015. However, only 5% of CNI’s total revenues in last year came from coal transportation. Coal’s contribution to the company’s total carloads was a mere 8% that year.

CNI thus appears to be better positioned to avert the coal headwinds than peers Norfolk Southern (NSC), CSX Corporation (CSX), Union Pacific (UNP), and Kanas City Southern (KSU).

Investors in the transportation sector can invest in ETFs like the iShares US Industrials ETF (IYJ), which has 5.5% of its portfolio holdings in major US railroads.

Frontrunners and laggards

In the week ended August 6, 2016, the major advancing commodity groups were:

  • lumber and wood products
  • crushed stone
  • metallic ores
  • waste and scrap materials
  • automotive
  • grain mill products
  • grain

Major declining commodity groups were:

  • primary forest products
  • pulp and paper products
  • petroleum and chemicals
  • metal products
  • stone, clay, and glass
  • iron and steel scrap
  • farm products

Now let’s analyze the intermodal traffic of Canadian National Railway.

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