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These Commodities Led BNSF Railway’s Rise in Week 26

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BNSF Railway’s freight railcars

Berkshire Hathaway’s BNSF Railway (BRK-B) operations are spread over 28 states and three Canadian provinces. In the week ended July 1, 2017, BNSF Railway’s overall railcars excluding intermodal grew 4.8%. The company hauled ~100,000 railcars that week, compared with 95,000 railcars in the 26th week of 2016.

The growth in company’s overall railcars was fueled by the growth in BNSF’s coal and coke railcars. Railcars excluding coal and coke jumped 3.5%, and the company moved 62,000 railcars excluding coal, compared with 60,000 railcars in the week ended July 2, 2016.

Compared with the overall US railroad volume growth of 2.3%, BNSF Railway’s rise was almost double in the 26th week of 2017.

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BNSF Railway’s overall cumulative volumes

BNSF Railway witnessed a 10.2% rise in its overall carloads, excluding intermodal, in the first six months of 2017. This growth is the highest among class I peers (UNP). When compared with the overall volume rise in US railroads of 6.4% during the first half of 2017, BNSF’s percentage rise is significant.

Apart from coal (ARLP) (ANR), the major commodity groups that posted double-digit gains in the first six months include grain, motor vehicles, sand and gravel, iron and steel scrap, and farm (excluding grain). Commodities that registered major falls in volumes during the same period were petroleum (UNG), forest products, and non-metallic minerals.

Changes in commodity groups in the 26th week

The advancing commodity groups included:

  • metallic ores
  • sand and gravel
  • metals
  • motor vehicles
  • iron and scrap

Commodity groups with lower volumes included:

  • grain
  • pulp and paper
  • petroleum
  • waste and scrap

In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss BNSF Railway’s intermodal traffic in the 26th week of 2017.

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