Reduced and raised expectations

North American railroads took revenue and expense hits during the quarter ended March 31. Even so, every major railroad company (save one) beat the Street's reduced expectations. And although rail service deteriorated during the quarter, it is (for the most part) improving right along with the weather does, wrote transportation industry analyst and RailTrends® Program Consultant Tony Hatch in a first-quarter earnings piece we posted earlier this week. Capex has played (and will play) a role in helping railroads stay the better-service course. Recent high-profile derailments, on the other hand, have served only to foster "growing business-press hostility" (as Hatch put it) and prompt regulators, legislators and the public to question the industry's safety record. We'll monitor the questions, answers, expectations – reduced and raised — and the weather as the second-quarter unfolds.

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