Trinity Industries, the largest supplier of railcars in North America, earned $34 million in the first quarter but not thanks to its car sales. They brought in only half the revenue of a year earlier, and Trinity’s rail group lost money.
Total first-quarter revenue was $794 million, down 12 percent from a year earlier as rail production and shops brought in just $284 million for a 50 percent plunge. Net income was down 47 percent, but analysts were cheered because they expected worse.
“Given the challenging economic environment, our results were good,” said Timothy R. Wallace, the chairman, president and CEO.
Dallas-based Trinity’s car leasing and management unit generated $222 million to nearly double the year-earlier level, and operating profit of $53 million. The traditional rail production and refurbishing core lost $5.8 million.
Trinity is also relying on its production of steel wind towers, which once was growing strong but suffered when the credit crisis sapped financing and demand. Still, its $128.5 million in first-quarter revenue was only $1 million lower than in the 2008 quarter, and those energy products eked out slightly larger operating profit of $18.3 million.
Once again, barge output helped Trinity blunt the downturn in its main business line. Barge sales of $157 million were up 14 percent, and the unit’s operating profit of $39 million was 47 percent higher.
Trinity also has a large construction products line, which includes steel beams for buildings and rods used in road work, but that suffered with the collapse in the building markets. It should perk up with the Recovery Act’s new spending on highways and other projects, but that did not kick in this quarter, when sales fell 27 percent to $124 million and its operations lost $1.9 million.
Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com .