BNSF’s intermodal volumes
In the 13th week of 2017, BNSF Railway (BRK-B) recorded a 17.6% rise in its overall intermodal traffic on a YoY (year-over-year) basis. The company moved more than 100,000 containers and trailers in the week ended April 1, 2017, which compares to 94,000 containers in the corresponding week of 2016. The company’s container volumes rose 6.1% to over 89,000 containers in the 13th week of 2017.
In line with containers, BNSF Railway witnessed trailer volumes rising 8.7% YoY to around 11,000 trailers. The company’s rise in intermodal traffic was on par with the overall rise reported by US railroad companies in the same category.
Investors interested in comparing this week’s freight volume data with the previous week’s data can visit Market Realist’s Week 12: North American Freight Rail Traffic on the Fast Track.
Are intermodal volumes vital to BNSF?
BNSF Railway includes domestic and international intermodal operations in its Consumer Products Freight business, which also includes automotive freight. This segment accounted for ~30% of BNSF Railway’s total revenues in 2016.
Investors should note that BNSF Railway accounted for ~50% of the total Western US freight rail traffic in 2016. The company handles 1.0 million more intermodal units every year than any other Class I railroad company. Its intermodal volumes represent nearly 50% of its business portfolio.
BNSF Railway faces tough competition from truckers such as JB Hunt Transport Services (JBHT) and Swift Transportation (SWFT) in the intermodal space. Intermodal volumes are impacted by seasonality, highway-to-rail conversions, and access to certain high-traffic ports.
If you’re interested in the transportation space, you could consider the WisdomTree Earnings 500 ETF (EPS). All US-based Class I railroad companies are included in its portfolio.
In the next part, we’ll take a look at the carloads of the smallest US Class I railroad company, Kansas City Southern (KSU).