FreightCar Cuts 4Q Loss to $3.5 Million

FreightCar Cuts 4Q Loss to $3.5 Million

FreightCar America narrowed its fourth-quarter net loss to $3.5 million from a $5.5 million loss in the 2009 period and said orders to build new cars are starting to grow.

FCA specializes in making coal-hauling railcars and was hit hard by the recession's drop in coal shipments by major railroads. Coal traffic has yet to reach pre-recession levels, and a shift to natural gas as fuel by some power plants could slow future coal loadings. But FCA also manufactures other car types, including those used to haul motor vehicles, intermodal containers and steel coils.

"While it is difficult to assess when sustained demand for coal cars will return," said President and CEO Ed Whalen, "we are encouraged by the fact that since the beginning of 2011 the company has received orders for more than 3,000 new railcars to be manufactured and delivered during 2011 and 2012."

FCA's October-December revenue of $51 million was up from $49.4 million a year earlier. Car builders are paid when they deliver the units, and FCA's 694 car deliveries in the period was almost even with 697 in the final 2009 period. But the backlog of cars yet to build rose to 2,054 units at the end of 2010 from just 265 when 2009 ended, and new orders in 2011 would add to that.

Whalen said in the latest quarter "we were still affected by ongoing competitive pricing pressures and underutilization of our manufacturing capacity." While low coal stockpiles at utilities should drive up traffic and new car demand over time, he said FCA in 2011 will "continue to focus on factors within our control: maximizing operational efficiency, strict cost management, preservation of our financial strength and flexibility."

For all of 2010, FCA sales totaled $142.9 million, down from 2009 sales of $248.5 million. The 2010 net loss of $12.8 million was up from $4.9 million for 2009. It delivered 2,229 railcars last year -- 2,079 sold and 150 cars leased; in 2009 deliveries of 3,377 units included 2,297 sold and 1,080 leased.

-- Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.