Zacks
0
All posts from Zacks
Zacks in Our Research. Your Success.,

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL –August 14, 2017 – Today, Zacks Equity Research discusses the Industry: Railroads, Part 3, including Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE:UNP Free Report), CSX Corp. (NASDAQ:CSX Free Report) and Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC Free Report).

Industry: Railroads, part 3

Link: https://www.zacks.com/commentary/124901/will-sluggish-automotive-production-derail-railroads

It is a well-established fact that coal-related headwinds battered stocks in the railroad space over the past few years, however things are looking up now on that front thanks to President Trump’s favorable views on the commodity. An improving economy also means good news for railroads. Despite this optimism, one must be mindful of certain factors still hurting stocks in the space before investing in the sector. Let’s delve into the details.

Sluggish Automotive Production: Major Headwind

Weakness in the automotive sector had hurt the results of major railroads in the second quarter, with production in the U.S. declining substantially. However, the major worry is that the scenario is expected to worsen ahead, thereby hurting railroads big time. In fact, sector participants like Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE:UNPFree Report), CSX Corp. (NASDAQ:CSXFree Report) and Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSCFree Report) have issued disappointing views for the back half of the year.

Union Pacific on its second-quarter conference call said that light vehicle production in North America for the third quarter is projected to decline approximately 6%. Moreover, light vehicle sales for full-year 2017 are projected at 17.1 million units, reflecting a 2% decline from 2016 levels. Norfolk Southern, meanwhile, said that automotive production, which declined 6.5% year over year in the U.S. in the second quarter, is projected to be worse with a 9.3% decline in the third quarter.

The disappointing commentaries above imply a bleak outlook for railroads pertaining to automotive volumes in the remaining quarters of the year. With the automotive sector accounting for a significant chunk of their revenues, softness in automotive volumes will hurt railroads big time.

Reciprocal Switching – What Lies Ahead?

The regulations concerning reciprocal switching proposed by the Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB) could hurt railroads big time, if implemented. The proposal — also referred to as forced access by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) — implies that shippers without access to other transportation modes will be permitted to use a competing rail line without any additional pricing and possibly at below-market rates.

AAR is against the implementation of the proposal as it might lead to the top line of railroads shrinking significantly. Moreover, increased costs are likely to hurt the bottom line. In Jul 2017, AAR’s President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger reportedly urged STB not to implement proposals pertaining to forced switching among others. Consequently, investors interested in the railroad would keenly wait for updates on this burning issue.

Other Headwinds

One of President Trump’s efforts to revive the coal industry is to do away with the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which is a favorable development for railroads. However, the task is easier said than done, with many hurdles along the way. Moreover, Norfolk Southern’s commentary on coal for the latter half of the year is also troubling. According to the company, though the coal scenario is projected to improve further in the second half of 2017, the pace will be sluggish primarily due to a slowdown in export of the commodity. The company said that export tonnage is likely to be lower than the levels witnessed in the first half of the year. It is projected to come down to the range of 4 million to 5 million ton per quarter.

Moreover, the Trump administration is making efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – the trade pact inked in 1994 between the U.S., Canada and Mexico – in a bid to secure better terms for domestic workers. We note that railroads like Kansas City Southern (KSU) have significant exposure to Mexico. In this scenario, any unfavorable development on NAFTA has the potential to hit these companies hard.

Kansas City Southern carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Conclusion

The above write-up clearly indicates that railroads are not bereft of headwinds despite the optimism surrounding the space. The challenges can result in investors, especially the risk-averse ones, shying away from the sector.

Check out our latest Railroad Industry Outlook for more news on the current state of affairs in this market from an earnings perspective, and how the trend looks ahead for this important sector at the moment.

More Stock News: Tech Opportunity Worth $386 Billion in 2017

From driverless cars to artificial intelligence, we've seen an unsurpassed growth of high-tech products in recent months. Yesterday's science-fiction is becoming today's reality. Despite all the innovation, there is a single component no tech company can survive without. Demand for this critical device will reach $386 billion this year alone, and it's likely to grow even faster in the future.                                                                                       

Zacks has released a brand-new Special Report to help you take advantage of this exciting investment opportunity. Most importantly, it reveals 4 stocks with massive profit potential. See these stocks now>>

Zacks Industry Rank

Within the Zacks Industry classification, health insurers are broadly grouped in the Medical sector (one of the 16 Zacks sectors).

We rank 265 industries into 16 Zacks sectors based on the earnings outlook and fundamental strength of the constituent companies in each industry. We put our X industries into two groups: the top half (industries with the best average Zacks Rank) and the bottom half (the industries with the worst average Zacks Rank).

Over the last 10 years, using a one-week rebalance, the top half beat the bottom half by more than twice as much. The Zacks Industry Rank is #177 (bottom 34%). The ranking is available on the Zacks Industry Rank page.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They're virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today's 220 Zacks Rank #1 "Strong Buys" were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year.See these high-potential stocks free >>.

Get the full Report on CSX - FREE

Get the full Report on UNP - FREE

Get the full Report on NSC - FREE

Follow us on Twitter: 

Join us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.

Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

800-767-3771 ext. 9339

support@zacks.com

https://www.zacks.com/

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performancefor information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.


Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
CSX Corporation (CSX): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Union Pacific Corporation (UNP): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Norfolk Souther Corporation (NSC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
 
Zacks Investment Research