uploads///NSC Carloads

Comparing Norfolk Southern’s Carloads


Nov. 20 2020, Updated 3:41 p.m. ET

Norfolk Southern’s carloads

In the eastern United States, Norfolk Southern (NSC) operates alongside CSX (CSX). In the week ended January 14, 2017—the second week of the year—NSC’s overall railcar volumes grew 7.5%. The number of railcars topped ~66,000, compared with 61,000 in the week ended January 16, 2016.

Railcar volumes, excluding coal and coke traffic, rose 2% in the reported week of 2017 on a YoY (year-over-year) basis. NSC’s volume, in percentage terms, was twice that of US railroads in the second week of 2017.


Investors interested in comparing this week’s freight volume data with the previous week’s can read Your Freight Rail Traffic Rundown for the First Week of 2017.

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Why coal carloads matter for NSC

Investors should note that coal (CNX) made up 15% of the company’s 3Q16 revenue, falling from 23% in 2009. NSC’s coal and coke traffic (ARLP) rose 7.7% in the week ended January 7, 2017.

In its 3Q16 conference call, NSC stated that the warm summer and sequential rise in natural gas prices have reduced the contraction in utility coal volumes. The company expects that higher stockpiles will be a hindrance for coal carloads going forward.

If you’re seeking exposure to transportation and logistics, you could invest in the iShares US Industrials ETF (IYJ). Major US railroads (UNP) make up 5.6% of the portfolio holdings of IYJ.

Leaders and laggards

In the week ended January 14, 2017, advancing commodity groups were as follows:

  • grain
  • grain mill products
  • metals and products
  • motor vehicles and equipment
  • waste and scrap

The major laggards in the same week were the following:

  • chemicals
  • primary forest products
  • stone, clay, and glass products
  • lumber and wood products

In the next part, we’ll look at NSC’s intermodal traffic for the week ended January 14, 2017.


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