Canadian Pacific’s carloads

Canadian Pacific’s (CP) total carloads rose 4.3% in the week ended February 4, 2017. The company hauled over 31,000 railcars that week, as compared to 30,000 in the corresponding week of 2016.

CP’s railcars excluding coal rose 2.1% YoY (year-over-year) to settle at ~26,000 units in the fifth week of 2017, as compared to more than 25,000 railcars in the week ended February 6, 2016.

These Key Commodity Groups Drove Canadian Pacific’s Carloads

Canadian Pacific normally receives 70% of its revenue from Canada and 30% from the United States. CP’s coal carloads rose 15.6% YoY in the fifth week of 2017, whereas rival railroad Canadian National (CNI) reported a YoY fall in the same category.

Why coal carloads matter to CP

Coal accounted for 11% of Canadian Pacific’s (CP) revenue and 12% of its carloads in 2016. The company mainly transports metallurgical coal meant for exports through Metro Vancouver’s port. Its coal traffic in Canada begins primarily at Teck Resources’ (TCK) mines in southeastern British Columbia.

During the past year, coal’s production and demand have been under pressure due to depressed prices, environmental concerns, and a shift from coal-fired power plants to natural gas-based electricity generation. US steel producers’ capacity utilization didn’t see a marked improvement in the recent quarter either.

Notably, all US-born Class I railroads (UNP) are included in the portfolio holdings of the WisdomTree Earnings 500 ETF (EPS). Investors interested in comparing this week’s freight volume data with the previous week should explore Market Realist’s Your Freight Rail Traffic for the Week Ended January 28.

Commodity groups

In the week ended February 4, 2017, the major advancing commodity groups were as follows:

  • US grain
  • potash
  • chemicals and plastics
  • metals, minerals, and consumer products

The major commodity groups that reported declines were the following:

  • Canadian grain
  • fertilizers and sulfur
  • forest products
  • crude

In the next and final part of this series, we’ll take a look at the changes in Canadian Pacific’s intermodal traffic.

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