Greenbrier Companies took recent new orders to build 4,200 more railcars, most of them double-stack intermodal wells, valued at $325 million.
The orders also include some boxcars and covered hoppers for various cargoes plus some cars for the European market. Greenbrier said delivery for the most part should be later this year.
That is the latest sign of steadily rising demand for intermodal equipment, after the supply chain snugged up last year when soaring imports from Asia quickly snapped up available marine containers and many cargoes were transloaded at U.S. coasts into larger domestic containers for the inland move. Meanwhile, the recovering economy quickly took up all the domestic 53-foot containers that were available, prompting intermodal suppliers to order more at several points last year from box builders in China.
But while containers are made overseas, railcars are built by a handful of North American suppliers. Greenbrier earlier reported orders coming in at various times to cut up and stretch smaller used intermodal wells to haul 53-ft. boxes, and then to build new 53-ft. well cars. The well cars in the latest orders are 53-footers.
Earlier, equipment lessor GATX said it ordered 2,500 railcars a year to be delivered by Trinity Industries over the next five years, or 12,500 in all, in a mixed order dominated by tank cars.
Greenbrier said its new bookings include 1,800 units ordered before the company's fiscal second quarter ended Feb. 28, while 2,400 more came in after that. But it said all were in addition to 1,900 car orders it previously announced in January.
This left Greenbrier's order backlog at 9,500 units as of Feb. 28 worth $720 million, up from 8,100 units valued around $580 million as of Nov. 30.
Greenbrier plans to report quarterly earnings April 7, but said preliminary indications are that it took in about $280 million in revenue and should report results near analysts' expectations for a loss of one cent per share.
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