The railroad industry is one of the major components of the transportation sector and is closely tied to the economy’s growth. Railroad companies operate vast networks that transport agricultural products, packaged foods, commodities, electronics, and other goods to companies and consumers. Major companies in the industry include Norfolk Southern Corp. and CSX Corp. In mid-September, a potential rail strike threatened to disrupt the industry the U.S. economy, but the Biden administration secured a tentative deal with company and union leaders a day before the strike deadline on Friday, Sept. 16. The deal still must be ratified by members of multiple labor unions, which may take several weeks.
The railroad industry does not have its own benchmark, but as a part of the broader transportation sector, its performance can be reasonably approximated by the iShares Transportation Average ETF (IYT). IYT has outperformed the broader market with a total return of -8.1% over the past 12 months, above the Russell 1000’s total return of -13.1%. These performance figures and all others below are as of Sept. 15, 2022.
Here are the top 3 railroad stocks with the best value, the fastest growth, and the most momentum.
These are the railroad stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Because profits can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, a low P/E ratio shows you’re paying less for each dollar of profit generated.
|Best Value Railroad Stocks|
|Price ($)||Market Cap ($B)||12-Month Trailing P/E Ratio|
|Trinity Industries Inc. (TRN)||23.38||1.9||13.5|
|Greenbrier Companies Inc. (GBX)||28.72||0.9||16.6|
|CSX Corp. (CSX)||30.17||64.6||17.0|
- Trinity Industries Inc.: Trinity Industries provides rail transportation products and services in North America. The company offers railcar leasing and management services. It also offers railcar manufacturing, maintenance, and modifications.
- Greenbrier Companies Inc.: Greenbrier Companies is a supplier of equipment and services to global freight transportation markets. The company designs and manufactures freight railcars and marine barges. It also provides freight railcar wheel services, parts, and maintenance, as well as railcar management and leasing services. On Sept. 1, Greenbrier announced that Bill Krueger had been appointed president of Greenbrier Manufacturing Operations. He was previously chief operating officer (COO) for the business. In this new role, Krueger oversees all new railcar manufacturing operations in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Romania and Turkey, as well as functions including design, engineering, and logistics.
- CSX Corp.: CSX is a transportation company that provides rail, intermodal, and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions. It serves customers in a variety of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products. CSX announced earnings results for Q2 2022 on July 20. Net income increased modestly year-over-year (YOY) as revenue surged. Revenue rose across nearly all markets.
These are the top railroad stocks as ranked by a growth model that scores companies based on a 50/50 weighting of their most recent quarterly YOY percentage revenue growth and their most recent quarterly YOY earnings-per-share (EPS) growth. Both sales and earnings are critical factors in the success of a company.
On Nov. 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will invest approximately $550 billion in America’s roads and bridges, water infrastructure, resilience, internet, and more. Of this $550 billion, $66 billion will be allocated to improving America’s passenger and freight rail system.
Therefore ranking companies by only one growth metric makes a ranking susceptible to the accounting anomalies of that quarter (such as changes in tax law or restructuring costs) that may make one or the other figure unrepresentative of the business in general. Companies with quarterly EPS or revenue growth of over 2,500% were excluded as outliers.
|Fastest Growing Railroad Stocks|
|Price ($)||Market Cap ($B)||EPS Growth (%)||Revenue Growth (%)|
|Canadian National Railway Co. (CNI)||118.53||80.9||26.4||16.0|
|CSX Corp. (CSX)||30.17||64.6||3.9||27.6|
|Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp. (WAB)||87.85||16.0||37.9||1.8|
- Canadian National Railway Co.: Canadian National Railway is a Canada-based transportation company that offers rail and other transportation services, including intermodal, trucking, and more. On July 26, the company announced a quarterly dividend of CA$0.7325 (approximately $0.55) per common share. The dividend is payable Sept. 29 to shareholders as of Sept. 8, 2022.
- CSX Corp.: See company description above.
- Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp.: Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies, known as Wabtec Corp., provides equipment and services for the freight and transit rail industries. It manufactures and provides components for new and existing freight cars. The company also builds new commuter locomotives and sells infrastructure and rail control equipment. Westinghouse Air Brake reported Q2 2022 earnings results on Aug. 5. Net income attributable to shareholders climbed by 32.8% YOY. The company said higher sales and increased operating margins drove growth.
These are the railroad stocks that had the highest total return over the last 12 months.
|Railroad Stocks with the Most Momentum|
|Price ($)||Market Cap ($B)||12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)|
|Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP)||75.77||70.5||11.0|
|Union Pacific Corp. (UNP)||218.36||136.4||9.2|
|Canadian National Railway Co. (CNI)||118.53||80.9||2.9|
|iShares Transportation Average ETF (IYT)||N/A||N/A||-8.1|
- Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.: Canadian Pacific Railway is a Canada-based railroad company. It provides rail and intermodal transportation services across Canada and the U.S., including transportation of bulk commodities, merchandise freight, and retail goods.
- Union Pacific Corp.: Union Pacific connects the western two-thirds of the U.S. by rail. It operates rail transportation services from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways, connects with Canada’s rail systems, and serves all major Mexico gateways. In late July, Union Pacific announced that it had signed a major deal with Wabtec to modernize approximately 600 locomotives. The agreement is valued at more than $1 billion.
- Canadian National Railway Co.: See company description above.
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