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Norfolk Southern: Rise in Trailers Led Intermodal Growth in Week 23

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Jun. 20 2017, Updated 10:37 a.m. ET

Norfolk Southern’s intermodal traffic

Norfolk Southern’s (NSC) total intermodal traffic rose 5.3% in the week ended June 10, 2017. The company’s overall intermodal volumes totaled ~80,000 containers and trailers. Although Norfolk Southern’s container traffic grew 4.5%, its trailer traffic rose 14.6% YoY (year-over-year) to ~7,200 units, compared to 6,300 units in the week ended June 11, 2016.

NSC’s overall intermodal growth equaled the rise reported by US railroads in week 23 of 2017. Compared with its close rival CSX (CSX), NSC registered a higher rise in intermodal volumes during the reported week.

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Intermodal growth for NSC

Intermodal growth has been a key focus area for Norfolk Southern (NSC) in the last several quarters. The company’s intermodal revenues rose 9% to $571.0 million in 1Q17 on a year-over-year basis.

The growth in Norfolk Southern’s trailer traffic is mainly due to the restructuring of TCS (Triple Crown Services), its underperforming subsidiary. The company has shifted many of its intermodal customers to other intermodal lanes.

After the TCS restructuring, Norfolk Southern concentrated on specific freight categories such as auto parts (TM). In addition, the company aims to secure service-sensitive business in the intermodal space.

The increasing number of containers and trailer volumes in the East Coast ports could drive intermodal growth for Eastern US freight rail carriers such as Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Investing in ETFs

Railroads are included in the industrial sector. Investors seeking exposure to the transportation and logistics sector can invest in the First Trust Industrials/Producer Durables AlphaDEX ETF (FXR). FXR’s portfolio holdings include major US airlines (DAL) and railroads (UNP).

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