Rising rail freight and equipment demand sent revenue soaring at railcar and barge maker Greenbrier in the last quarter, strengthening the company’s profits.
The rail supplier doubled its revenue to $398.2 million in the quarter ending Nov. 30 as it delivered 3,300 railcars, compared with 1,050 units in the year-ago period.
Greenbrier’s net profit climbed to $14.5 million compared with a $2.3 million loss a year ago. The company had a $12.6 million net profit in the previous quarter.
Year-over-year, Greenbrier’s manufacturing revenue rose more than 200 percent to $262.7 million. Wheel service, refurbishment and parts revenue increased 24 percent to $117.7 million.
Revenue from the approximately 9,000 railcars Greenbrier leases and its fleet management services dropped 2 percent to $17.8 million as the company discontinued some management services.
The Lake Oswego, Ore.-based manufacturer’s resurgence reflects gains in boxcar and intermodal freight traffic in 2011 reported Thursday by the Association of American Railroads. U.S. railroads moved 15.2 million carloads in 2011, up 2.2 percent from 2010 and 9.7 percent from 2009, the AAR said. Intermodal volume jumped 5.4 percent.
“We continue to see hopeful economic signs, as the industry prepares for 2012,” said John Gray, AAR senior vice president for policy and economics.
Greenbrier President and CEO William A. Furman said those signs include increased rail traffic, market share gains by rail, pent-up equipment demand and increased U.S. energy production.
“Over the past five quarters we have steadily ramped up new railcar production in North America, increasing production rates on existing lines and opening up new or previously idle production lines to meet growing demand,” Furman said Friday.
Greenbrier delivered 3,300 railcars in the September-to-November quarter, up from 1,050 units delivered in the year-ago quarter but a drop from a record 4,000 units in the previous quarter. The company also cut its railcar manufacturing backlog from 15,400 units Aug. 31 to 13,300 units valued at $1.1 billion Nov. 30. That backlog is still 64 percent higher than a year ago.
Railcar orders also slowed sequentially, dropping from 5,300 units last summer to 1,600 units in the fall. But Greenbrier said Friday it has received 2,400 orders since Nov. 30.