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Canadian National Railway: Intermodal Growth Scripts Story

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Canadian National’s intermodal volumes

In the week ended April 8, 2017, Canadian National Railway’s (CNI) overall intermodal volumes rose 11.5%. There was no trailer movement in week 14.

The company moved almost 45,000 containers in the 14th week of 2017 compared to more than 40,000 containers in the corresponding week of 2016. The rise in CNI’s intermodal volumes was much higher than the overall rise reported by US and Canadian railroad companies.

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Why is intermodal traffic important for CNI?

Canadian National Railway’s intermodal segment contributed more than 25.0% to the company’s total revenues in 2016. Of its total carloads in the year, intermodal’s share was ~42.0%. Canadian National Railway also operates one of the largest trucking services in Canada, which supplements its intermodal business.

Canadian National’s competitive advantage is its sole access to the Port of Prince Rupert in British Columbia. CNI connects Vancouver, British Columbia, with Prince Rupert in a long arc, which provides opportunities for the company to move containers from Asia to the US heartland.

CNI’s domestic segment is driven by consumer markets and US and Canadian economic growth. The company’s international intermodal segment is largely influenced by North American economic and trade conditions.

In the intermodal sector, Canadian National Railway faces competition from truckload companies such as J.B. Hunt Transport Services (JBHT), Swift Transportation (SWFT), and Landstar System (LSTR).

ETF option

If you’re looking for exposure to the transportation sector, you can invest in the Rydex S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF (RSP). All US-originated Class I railroad companies are included in the portfolio holdings of RSP.

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look at Canadian Pacific Railway’s (CP) weekly rail traffic data.

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