Rail Traffic Surges Again – Another Economic Gauge Signals Recover

Total N. American rail traffic came in at 686k last week. This is a pretty impressive surge, far better than what I expected. Even better is that the main reason was metal and stone products (think construction) and auto’s set yet another multi-year high. As I read the data coming out and observe the key indicators we follow I am becoming more convinced, those who “sell in April/May and go away” are going to regret that decision.

Capture1173 624x285 Wow....Rail Traffic

If we adjust the train numbers for the collapse in coal (below) then rail traffic would be well ahead of last year. In the chart below I have circles “week 13? for the past 4 years to give you a point of reference on the degree of coal’s plunge. Click here to see the reasoning for the coal decline.

Capture498 624x247 Wow....Rail Traffic

What we are seeing is an economy that is continuing to strengthen at what seems to be an increasing pace. Now of course the issue that confronts us is: Is this a blip or a trend?

As the weeks go by and I keep seeing improving numbers, I am moving solidly in the “trend” camp. Late winter numbers were not bad so this isn’t a “catch up” scenario. That data was solid, if unspectacular which has been reflected in much of what we have seen in the past month. Good but not great data. I think that is going to begin to change as this spring progresses…

By Todd Sullivan of Value Plays



About the Author

valueplays
Todd Sullivan is a Massachusetts-based value investor and a General Partner in Rand Strategic Partners. He looks for investments he believes are selling for a discount to their intrinsic value given their current situation and future prospects. He holds them until that value is realized or the fundamentals change in a way that no longer support his thesis. His blog features his various ideas and commentary and he updates readers on their progress in a timely fashion. His commentary has been seen in the online versions of the Wall St. Journal, New York Times, CNN Money, Business Week, Crain’s NY, Kiplingers and other publications. He has also appeared on Fox Business News & Fox News and is a RealMoney.com contributor. His commentary on Starbucks during 2008 was recently quoted by its Founder Howard Schultz in his recent book “Onward”. In 2011 he was asked to present an investment idea at Bill Ackman’s “Harbor Investment Conference”.