Shares of Greenbrier
The Lake Oswego, Ore.-based company, about which the Fool has never written (if a quick site search is to be believed), is nevertheless the type of company that quite literally carries large segments of the economy on its quite figurative back. (Got that?) It operates two businesses: A manufacturing segment makes and maintains ships and railcars both in the U.S. and internationally, and a leasing and services segment owns railcars for use by various transportation and leasing companies.
Customers include TTX and Burlington Northern Santa Fe's
The company's business has been uneven in recent years. Full-year revenues have fluctuated with Greenbrier turning in a net loss in fiscal 2002 (ended Aug. 31 of that year). Generally strong free cash flows have improved the picture, but investors have nevertheless not fared particularly well against the S&P 500 - until the last 18 months or so, that is.
A look at the company's fiscal Q3 results may help explain why. Revenues improved more than 60% year-over-year, new railcar deliveries jumped 125%, and EPS doubled. An improved economy was cited as a driver. But so, too, were efficiency measures that helped margins. And the new railcar manufacturing backlog looks strong going forward, meaning that Greenbrier doesn't look likely to run off the rails anytime too soon.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison owns shares of General Electric.