"Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Neb., agreed last fall to pay $100 per share in cash and stock for the 77.4 percent of BNSF shares that it didn't already own.
When he announced the deal, Buffett called it an "all-in wager" on the U.S. economy, since freight railroads carry so many items that consumers use everyday. Everything from toys and cars to lumber for homes and coal for electricity rolls on the rails. Burlington Northern, based in Fort Worth, Texas, ships enough coal to power one of every 10 homes in the U.S.
In an interview with The Associated Press, CEO Rose said a rise in recent shipments indicates the economy is stabilizing, but sustainable growth still appears a long way off.
Although recent storms on the East Coast have bumped up demand for coal to generate electricity, the outlook in other segments -- especially those tied to consumer spending -- is still mediocre at best."
Keep your eyes on the prompt natural gas price. If it stays above $5, the coal burns and shipments should continue to recover and post 14% or so growth YOY for the rest of the year. If it goes below $5, coal to gas switching will start again in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Coal has been running at historical normal levels for the last 6 weeks.