Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of FreightRail America (NASDAQ: RAIL ) were chugging ahead today, gaining as much as 13% after reporting a sharp increase in orders this quarter in its earnings report.
So what: By conventional means, it was a terrible quarter for the railcar maker, as the company tallied a net loss of $0.29 per share, far worse than the $0.10 per-share loss analysts expected, and revenue fell 74% to $47.1 million. That figure was miles off the analyst estimate at $89.2 million. However, the market ignored those numbers in favor of the surge in orders FreightRail received in the current quarter thus far to 5,500. By comparison, it took orders for only 693 cars in the entire second quarter.
Now what: Of the 5,500 new orders for cars, 4,000 are for rebuilt coal cars for the eastern coal market. Despite the jump in orders, management cited "ongoing weakness in the traditional freight car market" as the reason for the dismal performance last quarter, and the company is attempting to diversify away from the coal-car business, as coal use declines with the rise of natural gas. However, the large order it received this quarter shows that coal cars are still the heart of its business. I'd wait for a more consistent improvement in its performance before getting on board with FreightRail.
Like many industrial stocks, FreightRail is highly dependent on factors outside its control, such as the business cycle. But even as the global economy struggles to emerge from the financial crisis, some of the biggest manufacturers are hitting all-time highs. A new Motley Fool report, "3 Manufacturers for a Global Economic Recovery," outlines a group of companies that could take off when the global economy gains steam. Click here to read the full report!