GATX's CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Jan.23.14 | About: GATX Corp. (GATX)

Gatx Corporation (GMT) Q4 2013 Earnings Conference Call January 23, 2014 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Jennifer Van Aken - Director of Investor Relations

Brian A. Kenney - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

Robert C. Lyons - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Thomas A. Ellman - Executive Vice President and President, Rail North America

Analysts

Justin Long – Stephens, Inc.

Matthew Brooklier - Longbow Research

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Stephen O'Hara - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Michael Baudendistel – Stifel Nicolaus and Company

Operator

Well, good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the GATX Fourth Quarter Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded. And I'll now turn the conference over to Ms. Jennifer Van Aken. Please go ahead, Ms. Van Aken.

Jennifer Van Aken

Thank you, Kelsey, and good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us for the fourth quarter and 2013 year-end conference call. With me today are Brian Kenney, President and CEO of GATX Corporation; Bob Lyons, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Tom Ellman, Executive Vice President and President, Rail North America. Tom is joining us to provide additional insight on questions you may have regarding the North American rail industry.

As a reminder, any forward-looking statement made on this call represents our best judgment as to what may occur in the future. We have based these forward-looking statements on information currently available and disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise these statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. The company's actual results will depend on a number of competitive and economic factors, some of which may be outside the control of the company. For more information, refer to our 2012 Form 10-K/A for a discussion of these factors. You can find this report, as well as other information about the company, on our website, www.gatx.com.

I'll give a brief overview of the results provided in our press release earlier this morning and then Brian will comment on some key areas for GATX in the year ahead. After that we'll open it up for questions.

Today we reported 2013 fourth quarter net income of $53.3 million or $1.14 per diluted share. This compares to 2012 fourth quarter net income of $29.7 million or $0.62 per diluted share, which includes a benefit from tax adjustments and other items of $2.8 million or $0.06 per diluted share. Details relating to tax adjustments and other items are on page 12 of this morning’s press release.

For the full year 2013, net income was $169.3 million or $3.59 per diluted share, including a benefit of $4.5 million or $0.09 per diluted share from tax adjustments and other items. By comparison 2012 net income was a $137.3 million or $2.88 per diluted share, including a benefit of $3.5 million or $0.07 per diluted share from tax adjustments and other items.

The fourth quarter and full year 2013 results are reflective of the robust demand for tank cars in North America. Rail North American's fleet statistics were strong despite facing some challenges in the freight car market. Utilization was approximately 98% throughout the year and we achieved very strong lease rate increases on long-term renewals.

In the fourth quarter the renewal rate change of GATX's Lease Price Index was a record high 37.1% resulting in the full year renewal rate change of the LPI of 34.5%. We continue to optimize our fleet through railcar sales generating more than $50 million in in asset remarketing income. We were also active on the investment side as we found opportunities to purchase railcars outside of our existing supply agreement. Investment volume was over $500 million in 2013.

Within Rail International, GATX Rail Europe faced a weaker operating environment. Fleet utilization was solid though ending the year at 96.8%. 2013 was another big investment year for GRE with investment volume of more than a $160 million reflecting our strategy to continue strengthening our platform in this attractive market.

American Steamship Company operated 13 vessels and carried 28.8 million net tons of cargo in 2013, compared with 14 vessels that carried 29.7 million net tons in 2012. Segment profit was lower compared to 2012, however, as we moved less iron ore and operations were negatively impacted by conditions on the Great Lakes.

Portfolio Management improved year-over-year results were due to improved results from the Rolls-Royce and Partners Finance affiliates and the absence of an impairment related to the sale of the joint venture in the prior year. The Rolls-Royce joint venture continued to post very strong results, and today the engine portfolio is nearly $2.5 billion in net book value.

In the coming year, leases on approximately 20,000 railcars are scheduled for renewal in North America, and we expect a renewal rate change of the Lease Price Index to be in the 30% to 35% range again in 2014. Due to continued scheduled compliance work in North America, we expect maintenance expense to increase from 2013. We also anticipate somewhat lower asset remarketing income following a very robust 2013. We anticipate an improvement in the European railcar leasing market and remain focused on identifying additional investment opportunities internationally. ASC is expected to move more cargo in the coming year, and we are hopeful the current ice cover will have a positive impact on water levels.

In Portfolio Management, we anticipate another strong year from the Rolls-Royce affiliates, but slightly less asset remarketing income from the owned portfolio. Considering these items, we currently expect 2014 earnings to be in the range of $3.85 to $4.05 per diluted share, excluding any impact from tax adjustments and other items, and with that overview, I'll turn it over to Brian.

Brian A. Kenney

Thanks, Jennifer. I am going to assume everybody has read the press release, and Jennifer just summarized our 2013 performance and 2014 outlook. So I won't rehash those details except to say that I am extremely pleased with the way we performed both financially and strategically over the last few years, especially in context with serving an industry in which volume is measured in railcar loadings, still has not recovered to the levels seen in the prior, prior to the prior recession. So given the diversity of our fleet, broader-based economic growth which simulates more rail traffic will allow us to produce even better performance, and I am saying that coming off a year in which we produced record earnings per share. So obviously we remain very optimistic about our business.

So, this morning I have three topics I want to quickly address, and those of you who know GATX well will not be surprised to learn that two of them are of the challenging variety and that's the kind we always want to make sure that our investors are aware of.

So, the first factor I want to discuss is the tank car regulatory environment. Now, over the last six months there have been a number of accidents involving the rail transportation of crude oil, especially originating in the Bakken region of North Dakota and that started with that tragic accident in July, 2013, with the crude train derailment in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. There have been three other serious derailments of crude trains since then in North Dakota and New Brunswick, Canada, and in Alabama as well some other less severe derailments. And obviously, these accidents have naturally resulted in more intense focus from the general public, from the regulators, and of course from the industry on the safe transportation of crude oil and other flammable liquids by rail.

Now as an industry, we recognized a few years ago that the increased transportation of ethanol and crude oil in these unit trains warranted a re-examination of existing tank car designs for cars in that type of service. Thus the industry approach spins off, so the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. They were approached in May, 2011, and they were asked to rule on a new enhanced tank car design involving thicker steel, head shields, and enhanced rollover protection. Now unfortunately, it was not a priority for PHMSA at that point in time. So instead of waiting for them to act, the industry moved ahead and adapted this sturdier tank car design, and that new car has been built as the standard since October 2011.

Now after the accident in 2013, back in September PHMSA announced they were seeking public comments for 60 days on their Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and that concerned the safe transportation of hazardous material by rail including the DOT 111 tank car. So, numerous comments have been submitted by interested parties including those with the Railway Supply Institute which GATX is a member. Now, left to its normal process, the PHMSA Rulemaking could easily take a year or more but obviously there is intense external pressure on PHMSA to move more quickly, and you see examples of that in the press all the time. We saw probably last week there was a meeting between transportation secretary Foxx and executives from the rail and petroleum ministries concerning the safety of crude by rail transportation.

Actually, media reports that the secretary appeared to set some of the expectations for a 30-day response coming out of that meeting. So, you can see as a result there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty around what new regulation, if any, might be enacted for tank cars and flammable liquid service, the timing of any regulation, and of course what the impact might be on the GATX fleet.

Our position really hasn’t changed. We support any tank car design that would meaningfully improve the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail, but we also believe that these regulations need to be comprehensive. They should address railroad operating procedures, they should be based on scientific data, and they need to be comprehensive enough to avoid unintended consequences such as the shifting of this traffic to less safe modes of transportation like the highways.

The second factor I would like to touch on is our maintenance compliance bubble. Our fleet is in the midst of that. I discussed this on last year’s call as well as throughout 2013, and if you were able to listen, you know we used the term compliance bubble to refer to the increase in the variety of regulatory inspections and repairs that are required in our North American fleet over the next few years, especially and predominantly on tank cars. Now, these inspections are largely mandated by time and age, so this bubble we actually formed when we purchased the large amount of tank cars 15 years ago.

So in 2013 we completed compliance work on approximately 7,500 cars in our fleet and that was a large increase from 2012 and more importantly we had a sizeable increase in tank qualification compliance events in 2013, and that’s that periodic structural and inspection and repair of the tank itself. Tank qualification is generally most expensive and costly compliance event, and performing this inspection in over 4,000 cars in 2013 was that major driver in net maintenance increasing by 12% from the prior year. In 2014, we again expect an increase in both total compliance events and tank car qualifications, and that should drive an increase in net maintenance of around 10%.

Beyond 2014, based on the current schedule, we expect to decrease the number of tank qualifications eventually getting back below the 2013 level by around 2017. I’d say based on the current schedule, because obviously we are very active in the market, we buy new cars, we buy used cars, we sell cars, and obviously your schedule depends on the composition of your fleet, and compliance work really isn’t the only driver of maintenance expense for GATX, an equally important factor includes renewal success percentage, railroad repairs, and other factors, but I want to give you a good feel for where we are in the compliance bubble which is right in the middle.

Now the last topic before we go to questions I want to briefly address is today’s announcement of the dividend increase and the share repurchase authorization. Now as you know if you have dealt with us over the years we jealously guard both our access to and our cost of capital. It’s our life blood in order to grow our fleet and our asset base. So the board declared a dividend and approved the repurchase armed with the knowledge that the long term very high quality committed cash flow that we have locked in over the last few years in our North American rail business will help us achieve our objectives of both earning that good return for our shareholders and maintaining strong capital structure and we fully intend to do both in the years ahead.

So that’s all I had. So let’s go ahead and open up to questions operator.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Absolutely. (Operator Instruction) We will go first to Justin Long with Stephens.

Justin Long – Stephens, Inc.

Thanks and good morning. Congrats on the quarter and outlook. My first question was on the share buyback. I was just curious what your timeline was on this program being exhausted and also I was wondering what you are factoring into 2014 guidance in terms of share buybacks as well?

Robert C. Lyons

Sure. Good morning Justin. It’s Bob Lyons. The $250 million authorization that we put in place you can, our assumption on that is that there is enough capacity there for a multi-year plan, one or two years, up to a two-year plan gives us enough capacity. And for purposes of budgeting, you can assume that, that was split evenly between ‘14 and ‘15. And obviously, that is subject to change, could be accelerated, could be decelerated depending on investment opportunities that we see in the marketplace, and we will continue to maintain a very solid capital structure as Brian already referenced, so the baseline assumption is about half each year roughly.

Justin Long – Stephens, Inc.

Great. That's helpful. My second question was on the potential tank car retrofit. If we end up seeing this happen , which it sounds like it’s pretty likely, can you just talk about how about that will play out in terms of the costs that you all incur versus what will be passed on to the customer through a potential rate increase or some type of clause in your contract?

Brian A. Kenney

Sure. I will give you probably an unsatisfying answer on the first part of the question, and I will let Tom address the customer part of it. But the fact is we don't know if there is going to be a retrofit or what it should be. So it’s hard to estimate the cost. That's the unsatisfying answer. There is still lot of science and engineering that needs to go on to see what's possible, especially with the older cars. So for instance, I mentioned the high flow pressure release valve that has been recommended for cars, that hasn't been perfected yet.

Now one of the proposals out there in response to the PHMSA Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is, should you jacket the older cars. We don't know if that's feasible from an engineering standpoint, and that work is going on. So, as that work is performed, we are going to have a better idea of what retrofit is appropriate, if any, and what it will cost, but the unsatisfying answer is it could be very low or it could be tens of thousands of dollars in the extreme, so we really have to let PHMSA work through the process and figure out what retrofit, if any, makes sense. As far as the customer, Tom?

Thomas. A. Ellman

Thanks, Brian. For obvious reasons, I don't want to get into the specifics about the contracts we have with our customers, but in general there is an ability to adjust the lease rates for changes in regulatory requirement, and one of things we've been focused on for quite some time and we talk about on every call is the lengthening of the lease terms in the tank car market, so that time frame gives us a lot of time to recover whatever regulatory costs may be imposed on existing fleet.

Justin Long – Stephens, Inc.

Okay. That makes sense. And is there any opportunity for you to benefit from a tank car retrofit or would you just frame it up as it’s a net neutral if you are able to pass through the cost, like you were saying Tom or maybe a slight headwind if you incur a portion of that retrofit costs?

Thomas. A. Ellman

Yeah. From maintenance perspective , our primary objective is to maintain our own fleet. So, any kind of opportunity that might come from doing maintenance work on upgrading the fleet, probably you shouldn't give a lot of weight to that. But what happens with the market dynamics overall in a regulatory or phase-out situation, there is too many iterations to really make a call on what could happen there, but there’s a lot of factors, what do we have to do with our own fleet, what would that mean for the transportation of energy, of crude, what are the second order effects on other car types. So a lot of permutations to look at.

Justin Long – Stephens, Inc.

Okay. That's fair. And I will just close with one last question, just kind of bigger picture. So Trinity continues to ramp the JV they announced last year, and in December we also got an announcement regarding their strategic agreement with Element. It seems like there is really an appetite in the market to increase exposure to leased rail car assets. And with that in mind, I just wanted to get your bigger picture view on how you feel about the competitive landscape, and the amount of leased rail car capacity that appears to be coming on in the market?

Thomas. A. Ellman

From a tank car perspective, it’s certainly true that the capacity to produce tank cars has been going up. In 2013, We expected that a little over 20,000 tank cars will be delivered, and it could approach 30,000 tank cars in 2014. So, there certainly has been increased investment in this area as you would expect with backlogs going out as far as they are, generally into the late 2015 time frame. So I am not sure if that's where you are going with your question, but that’s certainly what’s been happening with capacity coming in.

Brian A. Kenney

And we will also say, having been in this business as the long-term player for over 100 years, and as have the other major players in this business, in good times and it’s been very good times in tank cars, you do tend to see people try to get into the business and of course it looks very attractive. But in challenging times, generally they try to get out as well. So it’s unclear whether any of these are long-term players, and we’re satisfied with the way we’re positioned.

Justin Long – Stephens, Inc.

Okay, great. I will leave it at that, and pass along. Thanks for the time this morning.

Operator

And moving on to Matt Brooklier with Longbow Research.

Matthew Brooklier - Longbow Research

Hey good morning. So just wanted to get your overall sense on the tank car market in fourth quarter from a lease rate perspective if you could provide some color, kind of directionally you know where lease rates moved, and then maybe your thoughts on tank lease rates potentially baked into your ’14 guidance.

Thomas. A. Ellman

Okay. This is Tom again and I think Bob will have some additional comments. Jennifer talked about some of the numbers, specifically the lease price index that we use show what rates are doing overall and obviously the number has been very strong in the 30% range and we expect that going forward. In tank cars it’s been pretty broadly based. We spend a lot of time talking about exactly what’s going on in crude oil and energy but the fact of the matter is because of the extreme demand in that area it’s difficult to produce cars for other services. So across the entire market the supply-demand situation is allowing us to get those high lease rates.

Equally importantly is the long lease term. We provided some information about being in excess of 60 months and we would expect that on the tank car side to continue. Moving over to freight car side, one of the things we have been talking about is a hopefulness of a general strengthening in that market and we’re starting to see that. The covered hopper market, thanks to the strong harvest is much stronger than it was earlier in 2013. We continue to see strength in the small cube covered hopper market which is what is used for sand and cement and we’re starting to see building occurring in the plastic pellet and other chemical markets.

Our company has been talking for a while now on the increased investments that will happen due to less expensive energy and we’re now seeing people starting to order cars for those services.

Robert C. Lyons

Matt, the only point I will add to Tom’s comments with regards to the LPI is you saw where it came out for the full year 2013 right in the mid 30% range and looking forward and taking that into consideration with our estimates we would expect the LPI to be in that same range again in 2014. So very attractive market for us.

Matthew Brooklier - Longbow Research

Okay. I guess the question being on tanks specifically do you think we’ve kind of peaked out here in terms of lease rates and do things level off from here moving forward, do they kind of stay where they are. I mean what’s your sense on kind of the direction of tank lease rates.

Robert C. Lyons

Yeah, Matt I will answer really quick and then let Tom add color. As we talked about at the end of the third quarter the tank car numbers already had levelled off at that point, as we saw on the back half of the year and we have factored that into our outlook already. I don't know if Tom wants to add anything else?

Thomas. A. Ellman

No, no. Bob said it perfectly. On a quarter-over-quarter basis you are definitely seeing levelling but in any kind of historical context extremely strong numbers.

Brian A. Kenney

It’s still well above the expiring rates.

Matthew Brooklier - Longbow Research

Right, right, okay, understood. And then if you could talk to your expectations for CapEx in ’14 kind of how you are looking at the year and potentially adding additional equipment aside from what you have already committed to.

Robert C. Lyons

Sure. We finished 2013 with consolidated investment of roughly $860 million, just over 500 million of that was in North American Rail. You can find that kind of deep in that the supplemental pages of the press release. As we look forward into 2014 first of all in that 850 million that included about $100 million roughly related to a joint-venture that we bought out in. So that was really an abnormal investment. So you would be looking for mid-700 levels which is right about where we were in 2011 and we would expect 2014 to be in the same range. So and fairly consistent across these segments as well.

With Rail North America, as I said this year being $500 million, our assumption right now is that number comes down, just quietly, but really it subject to opportunities we can find in the secondary market too. So another very solid investment year on the horizon is our expectation for ' 14.

Matthew Brooklier - Longbow Research

Got you, okay, appreciate the time and the color.

Robert C. Lyons

Thank you.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). We'll move to Art Hatfield with Raymond James.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Hi. Good morning everyone. Just one, I guess clarification as I hear you correctly you are saying that really in the back half of ' 13 absolute tank car rates appear to have plateaued at this point in time. Is that -- did I hear you correctly on that?

Brian A. Kenney

Yeah on, as we talked about before, there is when we said tank car rates we are talking a lot of different tank car types. But it certainly the rate of change is much, much smaller than you have seen through 2012 and the earlier part of 2013.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Did you see any segments within the market that showed any weakness?

Brian A. Kenney

Well I mean if you are talking tank cars, no we talked for several quarters about the challenges in coal and they continue.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Okay. Fair enough. As I look at kind of some of your metric, the back half of ‘13 the North America and this is all directly related to North America but the fleet is shrinking just a little bit and I understand you guys are always opportunistic about playing in the secondary market with then selling cars out of the fleet. But the announcement of the increase in the dividend, some of the other commentary, the share repurchase program and as long as I have known you guys you are always looking at the next cycle. Is there anything to read in the actions on some of your commentary today that maybe you are starting to look out and see that investment opportunities in some of your core markets here in North America are starting to lag particularly on the new investment side and that you guys are starting to think about how to position yourself for potential downturn a year or two out?

Brian A. Kenney

It's an interesting question, I think it’s definitely more challenging for investment in North America due to asset prices being so high. Fortunately we have our committed purchase program in place and we are still taking delivery so volume there will be still high and our commercial team has found ways to buy other cars in the market, but there is no question that it’s extremely challenging right now to make those transactions make sense. For every transaction in the secondary market that we close there is probably 10 that we look at and we say it's too expensive. Yes that's more challenging but I don't think you should read anything into these, in to the dividend and share repurchase authorization other than we've been able to lock down a tremendous amount of committed cash flow over the last couple of years.

Robert C. Lyons

Yeah I think just to add in that point Art, definitely as we look the last two or three years what we've been able to do in rate and term and lock that in for a very extended period of time the cash flow generation capabilities of the company continue to go up. In 2013 alone our cash from operations is over $400 million, just a couple of years ago, that was about $250 million and it's locked in now for a very long period of time.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Okay. So it's really is just a function of what you have been able to do with your contractual business over the last couple of years and that cash flow that’s locked in and maybe new investment is more difficult to accrue right now but that's really not the reason for the share purchase and the dividend?

Brian A. Kenney

That's correct. And as I said before we are estimating or assuming right now that our investment volume for 2014 will be, call it in the mid $700 million range. That's the third fairly healthy year in the row, that's a big investment year and we are able to do that and execute on share repurchase and pay the dividend, returning the capital to shareholders too while keeping the capital structure to be in a very solid position.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Of the 700 million, how much -- is that committed, I mean contractually you are obligated to take delivery of those assets or is that the planned?

Brian A. Kenney

We are committed under the Trinity order and that's the biggest in terms of commitment. Beyond that there is not a significant amount committed and really very little in North America, there is some in Europe. We are anticipating Europe to have another investment year in the mid $150 million to $160 million range and a good portion of that is committed. We took advantage of the opportunity there to place this order, advance order for tank cars and then in North America as you well know we have the Trinity order.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

That’s helpful. Thank you. Just a couple last ones, one quick one hopefully and I know lot of investors ask us this about this all the time but have you seen weakness in lease rates, specifically related to crude by rail in the fourth quarter?

Thomas. A. Ellman

No, we haven’t. What you’ve seen is inquiries are still coming in for new cars for crude by rail. The rate of those inquiries might have slowed a bit but the car types are still very much in demand. An important point though is the way we have been lengthening lease terms. We just don't have that many remarketing opportunities.

Brian A. Kenney

It’s fair to say the spot business, that other lessors are more focused on has receded dramatically, I think. So the very-very short term business that Tom’s saying that we’re participating in.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

And you think that’s just the function of the rail car manufacturers finally catching up a little bit with demand that initially topped as a result of growth in crude by rail?

Thomas. A. Ellman

Yes and just to amplify Brian’s point because it was very helpful because I missed the point in your question. In the short term market there’s been a dramatic decrease in lease rates for crude by rail and exactly the reason I can point toward is that there is more cars available for us than previously had been.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Could you quantify that say a year-over-year decline in that market or is that even a reasonable comparison?

Brian A. Kenney

It’s a little bit difficult to make that call because it’s not a market we participate in. We’re not getting one or two year leases like others are but pretty substantial drop than anecdotally what we’ve picked up in the market.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

And finally you guys addressed this very well at the beginning and I know I am going to ask you a question you don't have answer to but I am going to ask it anyways and I know the whole regulatory thing is really up in the air and maybe first derivate impact are the car types the second derivate impact are the car types and regulations but could you I mean could you ballpark today within your fleet kind of maybe a range of what the number of cars you think maybe impacted by the new by any new regs?

Brian A. Kenney

You know it’s such a fluid uncertain situation and the focus of everybody seems to change week to week but very, very broadly speaking GATX has approximately 12,000 cars in flammable service. As we said in the past the cars most at risk are the older non-jacketed general service cars that have been involved in these crude by rail accidents and we have less than 7,000 of those. So that’s another data point so 12,000-7,000 and then ultimately if there are any regulatory changes and it focuses on certain commodities like crude and ethanol than that’s, it’s a much lower number so once again unsatisfying answer. I seem to get a lot of those but at its broadest we have 12,000 cars of flammable service and you go down depending on the focus of the ultimate regulation.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Actually Brian that was lot more helpful than I thought you would be able to be. Just final follow-up to that and then I will get out of here. Have you gauged potential scenarios and do you see a potential situation where the regulations are so severe that maybe you back away from some of these markets?

Brian A. Kenney

Well to some extent I should let Tom handle that but we’re not a huge player for instance in the crude by rail business relative to our competitors anyway.

Thomas. A. Ellman

Yeah that’s exactly right. One of the things we stress over and over again is with the supply agreement the diversity in the assets that we have the crude by rail phenomenon we have order of magnitude 2,000 cars that are in crude service. So it’s not an area that we are real big in to start with regardless of what happens anything. When we’re making investments we’re going to be very-very focused and disciplined on not over investing in any one single area.

Brian A. Kenney

The other thing I would add Art just really quickly is you see a lot of different data points turn around out in the marketplace on what a retrofit might cause and at this point I don't even know how people are coming up with those assumptions but they range from whatever $5,000 to $80,000. $80,000 economically you are not going to make that investment back in this car. So I wouldn't extrapolate that kind of number anywhere.

Arthur Hatfield - Raymond James & Associates, Inc.

Now that's all very helpful. Hey thanks for your time today. Have a good day.

Brian A. Kenney

Thanks, Art.

Operator

Steve O'Hara with Sidoti & Company has the next question.

Stephen O'Hara - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Hi. Good morning.

Brian A. Kenney

Good morning.

Stephen O'Hara - Sidoti & Company, LLC

I mean I guess along the lines of the regulatory changes, I mean is there a potential here for this to depending on how quickly things get done, is there a potential here for just to squeeze rates on other car types or maybe force some marginal players out of the business, maybe the fringe players, I know it’s a highly consolidated industry but I am just wondering your thoughts on that, if you could?

Brian A. Kenney

Yeah. I don't know which part to take first. But as far as what this might to do the competitive landscape in the tank car market as you noted it is a highly consolidated industry and the major players are going to be facing this issue and they are going to have a different level of their fleet, that's exposed to it. I wouldn't expect anything that comes out of it to dramatically change who the players are. As far as what it does to lease rates again it all comes down to what a final regulation might be. And are certain cars allowed to operate that could be perceived to have different levels of utility based on how exposed they are to a potential regulation. It could happen exactly how to quantify those at this point is impossible.

Stephen O'Hara - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Okay. And then I mean is there any historical context maybe you could point to?

Brian A. Kenney

I don't think anything of this significance that's received this amount of attention at all at least in modern history.

Stephen O'Hara - Sidoti & Company, LLC

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Moving on to Craig West with [Dima] Capital Group.

Unidentified Analyst

Hi there, thank you for taking my call. I just was hoping to clarify another question related to this whole regulatory question. I appreciate that you have done what you can to insulate yourself from potential regulations and that there is a very small portion of the fleet that’s older and dedicated at this point in service. But if we get these regulations that require retrofitting whether it’s significant or small but does that end up leading to reallocation of the industry's fleet to the other tank car markets and thus pressured those rates even if it’s you are not directly affected, is there a secondary effect here?

Brian A. Kenney

Yeah. That's a great question and a helpful reminder of how specialized tank cars are, within the car types that carry crude and ethanol. If you had something where less rail car traffic was going to move, less crude oil traffic was going to move, yes it would put pressure on the car types that carry those commodities. But large portions of the tank car fleet would be unaffected because there is no ability to move between the commodities they carry and crude oil and ethanol. But context the GATX fleet are about 10% of the tank car fleet that we have are the car types that most often carry crude and ethanol today.

So that being the piece to that, whatever the impact is you would be looking for the biggest impact. If you really want to model out complexity there could certainly be a second order impact on new cars because if people had to build a bunch of replacement car types for the specific crude and ethanol cars, there would be less capacity to build other car types and there could be impact on those lease rates. But for the existing cars it’s really going to be limited to the car types that can carry crude and ethanol.

Unidentified Analyst

So just to be clear those 10% cannot be re-purposed for any other tank or car purpose other than crude oil?

Brian A. Kenney

No, incorrect. There is a variety of commodities that carry, that can go on that car type. Again just for context in the GATX fleet a little over half of them are in either crude or ethanol, a little over half of them are in a variety of commodities. What I meant is if for whatever reason this car typing and generally it's a 30,000 gallon car type. 30,000 gallon cars could not flow into other commodities. You would not all of a sudden have a glut of vegetable oil because those cars can't carry this flow.

Robert C. Lyons

I'd also add that if they go after all flammable liquids in the service then you are limited in how can we deploy this car. So that's why it's important to look at the whole range of numbers we turn out until regulations become clear.

So they can go into some other purposes but not all the purposes and we are not sure what other purposes they can be reallocated to?

Unidentified Analyst

That’s terrific, okay. Thank you.

Operator

Steve Barger with KeyBanc Capital has the next question.

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Hi good morning guys.

Brian A. Kenney

Good morning.

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets

You talked about some improvement in the freight market and following up on the point about specialization of tank cars, are the non-petroleum tank cars customers that maybe traditional buyers being pushed in the leases because of new car pricing or how they deferred purchases because of pricing I am trying to get a sense of how much pent up demand there is or opportunity on the non-petroleum side?

Brian A. Kenney

Yeah I think the biggest source of demand on the non-petroleum side is really much more from the backlogs we just saw along it is just difficult for them to hold the trigger on the ordering tank car. If backlogs come in a little bit than you see more ordering there. We have not seen in the non-petroleum car side any material movement in and out of relative ownership position given customer might make some changes there but broadly based it's been very consistent with history.

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Just so I understand you do think that as petroleum car orders moderate and backlogs come in that's some of the non-petroleum tank car buyers will come into the market?

Brian A. Kenney

I think they will but it's important to keep in mind the relative magnitude of those markets. Historically a good tank car year with 10,000 to 12,000 cars and we are talking about 30,000 car levels. So while everything else would help for period of time it's not enough to replace the demand that if and when the petroleum boom goes away you would see an overall decline in demand.

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Got you. And then Bob just a modelling question how should we think about gross margin portfolio management given the current portfolio and improved performance in the world's finance affiliate. The last couple of years have been either low 30 or high 30% range. Is that reasonable to think about going forward in that mid 30?

Robert C. Lyons

While we are assuming in 2014 that Portfolio Management total segment profit actually will decline modestly. They had a pretty good year in terms of remarketing activity. We are not anticipating that again in 2014. So that will back off, may come down by half of what it was this year just within Portfolio Management. Little bit of that of the offset world rise they had an extremely strong year this year as we are not anticipating that rate of growth will continue, they will continue to perform extremely well and contribute significantly but not enough to offset that drop in the marketing income.

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Got it. And sorry if I missed this, but did you talk about your effective tax rate for ' 14?

Robert C. Lyons

No. Happy to cover that though, our effective tax rate when you normalize this year was about 29% and for 2014 we are actually expecting that to go up a little bit in the 30% to 31% range due to the proportion of greater proportion of income generated here in North America which is our highest tax jurisdiction.

Steve Barger - KeyBanc Capital Markets

Thanks very much. That’s all I have.

Robert C. Lyons

Thank you.

Operator

And now we'll hear from Jim [Macgrine with Bancorp] Investors.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah good morning everyone and thank you for taking my question. Just a quick one I know you already made some comments on this but is there anything else besides improving outlook that is driving you to initiate $150 million repurchase announcement just a sense of your sort of thoughts for you guys?

Robert C. Lyons

Obviously the thing is our expectation of the growing cash flow and the embedded cash flow that we put into the business here in the last couple of years. We see that continuing to grow going forward. We have the ability to continue to invest and at times invest aggressively in our core markets and be able to return significant about of capital back to shareholders at the same time. So you know nothing other than our outlook.

Unidentified Analyst

Just a very quick follow-up on this and just to complete the scenario I guess. If someone were to make an offer for your company under which circumstances would you be required to disclose it to the public?

Brian A. Kenney

You know I don't know that. The general counsel will know the answers to that.

Robert C. Lyons

We say we always say which is you know if anybody ever makes a credible offer for GATX we will do what absolutely is in the best interest of our shareholder, period.

Unidentified Analyst

Understood, thank you very much.

Operator

Our next question will come from Mike Baudendistel with Stifel.

Michael Baudendistel – Stifel Nicolaus and Company

Thanks and good morning. Wanted to ask a question on one of the comments on the freight car you mentioned earlier in the call. The comments on strengthening of small cube covered hoppers and plastic pellet outlook you view those as being investable areas given where the equipment prices are?

Brian A. Kenney

Certainly and in fact in the small cube covered hopper market we have been making investment. Pellet car investment has been are pretty slow for the industry as a whole and so very recently and we’ll make the same decisions there as we do with every car type which is current lease rates, our long term expectations versus the current price but those are good solid car types that make a material portions of our fleet.

Michael Baudendistel – Stifel Nicolaus and Company

Good. And the lease price index being in the 30% range 2014 are you still facing comparison with the expiring leases still being at recessionary level that you start to face expiring leases that are a little bit higher rates in 2014.

Thomas. A. Ellman

That will come in 2015. They start to move up a little bit and actually 2014 we still have a pretty favourable comparison and then it starts to move up a little bit which makes sense given the lease cycle.

Michael Baudendistel – Stifel Nicolaus and Company

Great, that’s helpful. And then one more on the tank car regulations, I don't think I heard you comment on the capacity in the shops to perform those retrofits. Do you have any your opinion on if it’s $50,000 retro fit on a certain car type just what capacity is in the marketplace to perform those retrofits and over what period of time is reasonable for regulators to give you?

Brian A. Kenney

Well generally speaking we talked about the compliance bubble that GATX is in so capacity is constrained. We’re trying to add capacity in our shops over the next couple of years but the industry, tank car industry as a whole also has a compliance bubble out there that actually starts a little later and peaks a little later than ours. I think it will be very constrained if a retrofit is required on the entire tank car fleet. In fact that’s one of the challenges we are trying to bring up to people is as you consider retrofits and timing if there are any retrofits you really have to consider a capacity out there in the network and the ability to do that because you don't want to lose this traffic in the meantime to a less safe mode of transportation and that can happen if you try to ram it too quickly.

Michael Baudendistel – Stifel Nicolaus and Company

Great, that makes sense. Thanks for the time.

Operator

We have no further questions.

Jennifer Van Aken

Okay I would like to thank everyone for your participation on the call this morning and I will be available this afternoon if you have any follow-up. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And again ladies and gentlemen that does conclude our conference for today. We thank you all for your participation.

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