Rail Roundup: FreightCar America names new CFO; US rail volumes flat

A photograph of intermodal containers parked at a rail yard.

FreightCar America names new CFO

Railcar manufacturer FreightCar America (NASDAQ: RAIL) has named Terence R. “Terry” Rogers CFO, effective last Monday. Rogers has been serving as interim CFO since January.

As CFO, Rogers will lead FreightCar America’s finance activities, including its business planning, budgeting, forecasting, treasury and information technology, the company said.

President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Meyer commented in a release, “We are thrilled to have a person of Terry’s caliber join the permanent team. He is an extremely experienced financial leader and brings invaluable experience as we complete the remaining steps of our strategic repositions and look to pivot to long-term growth.”

He continued, “We are on track to complete the transition of our production to Mexico in early 2021 and remain focused on achieving our goals to become the highest quality, lowest cost producer in the industry and build a manufacturing platform well positioned for the future.”

Rogers has nearly 40 years of experience in finance, accounting and operations. He served as CFO for Roadrunner Transportation Systems from 2017 to 2019, and he was CFO of Heico Cos. from 2012 to 2017. During an over 17-year tenure at Ryerson, he served in a variety of executive roles, including CFO.

“Jim and the team have executed a comprehensive transformation of the business, which has significantly enhanced our competitive position,” Rogers said in the release. “I look forward to the future of the Company, and believe we have the right strategy to complete the repositioning and return to long-term growth.”

Rogers holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Illinois State University.

U.S. rail volumes minimally higher year-over-year

U.S. rail traffic was up 0.3% for the week ending Saturday amid a 7% drop in carload volumes and a 6.9% increase in intermodal volumes, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Weekly U.S. rail volumes totaled 480,483 carloads and intermodal units, with volumes up 0.3% from the same period in 2020. 

U.S. carloads slipped 7% to 211,420 carloads as gains for grain and forest products weren’t enough to offset losses for coal, metallic ores and metals, motor vehicles and parts, nonmetallic minerals. and petroleum and petroleum products. 

A comparison of select U.S. carloads on a relative basis: grain (blue: RTOGR.USA), chemicals (orange: RTOCH.USA), coal (green: RTOCO.USA) and petroleum products (purple: RTOPP). (FreightWaves SONAR)

Meanwhile, U.S. intermodal traffic rose 7% on a weekly basis to 269,063 containers and trailers.

For the first six weeks of 2021, U.S. rail volumes totaled 3.08 million carloads and intermodal units, a 4% increase year-over-year.

U.S. rail carloads (blue: RTOTC.USA), intermodal trailers (orange: RTOIT.CLASSI) and containers (green: RTOIC.CLASSI) over the past year. (FreightWaves SONAR)

Year-over-year comparisons can be uneven in the first quarter of 2021 because of the Lunar New Year. Factories in China cease operations during the holiday, whose date is different every year. 

“With the timing of the holiday changing each year, this skews Y/Y and Wk/Wk comps in weekly volume data every 1Q, as manufacturers and transport providers look to ship orders ahead of the standstill that closes China’s factories and ports,” said transportation analyst Bascome Majors in a Wednesday research note for Susquehanna Financial Group.

For this year, intermodal volumes on a year-over-year basis could appear higher in the next three weeks because 2020’s volumes reflect the factory shutdowns, according to Majors. 

In March, intermodal volumes for 2021 could appear lower, reflecting this year’s shutdowns. However, unlike past years, there are two factors that could influence results. A prolonged shutdown in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak impacted 2020 traffic, while some Chinese factories opted to remain open over the 2021 holiday to catch up on backlogs, according to Majors.

Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub reaches milestones

The development of Georgia’s Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub (SGIH) is proceeding as planned, organizers say.

At the 2,600-acre multimodal industrial park, A&R Logistics’ export headquarters is fully operational, while the park’s OmniTRAX rail infrastructure has started to receive shipments from CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC).

The industrial park is a partnership between infrastructure investment firm The Broe Group and the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. The Broe Group is OmniTRAX’s parent company.

“The amazing speed of this buildout delivered well ahead of plan, under these market conditions, is a testament to the shared commitment and incredible collaboration from OmniTRAX, Broe Real Estate Group, Effingham County, the Class I railroads and the Port of Savannah,” said A&R Logistics President Chris Ball in a release. “The Port of Savannah is poised to be a key plastics export hub, and our new export operation delivers a strategic facility from which we can best serve our customers’ global needs.”

The industrial park is within 12 miles of the Port of Savannah. FreightWaves reported on A&R Logistics’ opening in December.

“The A&R facility, SGIH’s new rail yards and the miles of park rail infrastructure are the latest examples of OmniTRAX’s ability to create and deliver full spectrum rail served real estate solutions designed to solve customer needs,” said Scott Brinner, OmniTRAX executive vice president of corporate development and strategic accounts.

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