What I heard versus what I wanted to hear
Heard: Our strategy is:
1. Rate increases
2. Small growth
3. Small, targeted capacity investment
Wanted to hear: Investment in velocity to reduce cost, create value, fill RR up with IM traffic
Heard: Triple Crown to do auto-parts. IM will try to convert existing FAK, but lanes don’t match well.
Wanted to hear: Triple Crown expertise in door to door service will be applied to existing IM lanes
Heard: Velocity trend is headed right direction
Wanted to hear: An actual plan or strategy to increase velocity
Heard: (analyst: less than 2006 traffic but 2006 employee count) Velocity is good. Reduces recrews and overtime
Wanted to hear: Aggressive pursuit of long pool crews through process improvement/targeted investment
Heard: comparisons to 2014
Wanted to hear: comparisons to 2013
Heard: implications that RR the way is will be just fine in the long run, we just have to get back to previous performance levels.
Wanted to hear: There is a fundamental shift from coal to intermodal and we have plans to configure our assets accordingly.
Wanted to hear: something about PTC risk, workforce transition and training, how technology is helping velocity
Heard: employee safety stats lead off operation’s slides
Wanted to hear: to hear almost nothing about employee safety. It’s just one of many internal processes that are important. Safety is not our value-added product.
Heard: We are keeping assets because coal may turn around
Wanted to hear: Coal is dying, we are planning accordingly, specifically X, Y, Z.
Heard: we have enough crews.
Wanted to hear: We have enough crews. I know we’ve said it before, but this time you can believe it - here’s proof, or tell about a new process that tells us how many is enough
Wanted to hear: Here’s what we’ve done to make sure 2014 meltdown doesn’t happen again.
Conclusion: Management is completely in “reaction” mode with short term goal of driving up share price to avoid a near-term take over. There is little or no vision beyond the next 12 months. Where we’ve been is all we ever need to be. This is a recipe for a slow death and/or a yard sale.
I suspect that my view of where Norfolk Southern should be headed is either not realistic or feather's the wrong nests.
That's why (among a whole host of reasons) I'm not the boss.