(Street Life is a regular feature that focuses on what's playing in the stock market.)
Act I: Bumpy roads
* The Player: Transforce Income Fund (TSX:TIF.UN)
* Action: Down 29 per cent in six months (from $12.62 Aug. 24, 2007)
* Recent Price: $8.93
* 52-Week High/Low: $15.35/$7.65 It's been a tough go recently for the truck transportation industry and its players; higher costs and a strong dollar have meant lower volumes and downward price pressure.
Montreal's Transforce Income Fund, a transportation company with truckload, parcel delivery and fleet management services, was able to post higher revenue in spite of the "challenging operating environment.”
Revenue in the third quarter rose to $486.2 million from $448.7 million a year before. Nine-month revenue was up to $1.447 billion from $1.338 billion the same period in 2006.
Net income, however, was down to $28.5 million in the quarter from $39 million the same quarter a year before, and nine-month income dropped to $76 million from $96 million in 2006.
Unfortunately for investors, the forecast doesn't look much better. Demand concerns haven't gone away and Transforce's oilfield services division is being hit by slowing drilling activity (thanks in part to Alberta's royalty changes).
Act II: Takeover and takeoff
* The Player: CHC Helicopter Corp. (TSX:FLY.A)
* Action: Up 38 per cent in a day on news (to $30.25 Feb. 22 from $21.88 Feb. 21)
* Recent Price: $30.28
* 52-Week High/Low: $31.88/$20.01 While some transport companies may be dreading the effects of Alberta royalty changes, Vancouver-based CHC Helicopter Corp. could care less.
The global helicopter operator, which provides transportation services to the energy sector, received a $3.7-billion takeover offer from U.S.-based private equity firm First Reserve Corp.
The offer, which is the biggest-ever in the oilfield services industry, was a 49-per-cent premium to CHC's $21.88 price on Feb. 21.
First Reserve will pay $32.68 a share for class A and B CHC shares, and will assume $800 million in debt and $1.4 -$1.5 billion in aircraft lease liabilities.
First Reserve said some may see the bid as too high, but the company is happy to pay for the "enormous amount of upside in CHC's business."
Act III: Click-clack boom
* The Player: Canadian Pacific Railways (TSX:CP)
* Action: Up 15 per cent in a month (from $63.61 Jan. 25)
* Recent Price: $72.90
* 52-Week High/Low: $91/$57.30 Riding the rails in 2008 has made for a good trip.
High demand for hauling freight, thanks in part to increased consumer imports from Asia, has pushed Canadian rail companies to add new tracks and locomotives to keep up. Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR) posted a record $946-million profit in 2007 and recently boosted its dividend by 10 per cent so shareholders could share in the joy. (The quarterly dividend will jump from 22.5 cents a share to 24.75.) CPR's net income in the last quarter of 2007 was $342 million, up from $146 million in the same quarter a year ago.
The Canadian Transportation Agency dampened the celebration a little when it announced grain farmers will be entitled to a break in freight rates.
But really - will that matter? It might be like leaving a penny on the track: when a train's at full speed, it just steamrolls over anything in its way.
Act IV: Wings to fly
* The Player: Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B)
* Action: Up 22 per cent in a month (from $4.71 Jan. 25)
* Recent Price: $5.74
* 52-Week High/Low: $6.97/$4.06 Forget aisle, middle or window; soon there will be five seat options on flights.
Montreal's Bombardier has designed a new C-series commercial jet with 100 to 149 seats in total, and five seats across. Technological advancements in the jet, such as structural, engine and aerodynamic improvements, mean better fuel efficiency and lower operating costs. Governments were tripping over themselves to contribute to the project, expecting up to 2,500 new jobs around Montreal and another 2,000 in Ireland. But thanks to the strong dollar, Bombardier is thinking of moving part of the work to the States instead.
On the ground, Bombardier has also won a US$229-million contract to build 27 electric locomotives for the New Jersey Transit Corp., with the option of 33 more. The locomotives will be built in Germany and are expected to ship in the fall of 2009.
The good news has helped Bombardier stock continue its climb back toward its 52-week high hit last summer.
NOTE: The above is not intended as investment advice to buy or sell any mentioned securities. Investors should do due diligence before investing. Quotes are based on results through Feb. 25, 2008.
(Nicole Strandlund can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)