The WorkBoat Composite Index treaded water again in May, gaining less than four points.

For the month, winners topped losers by an 8-7 ratio.

Among the big gainers was Trinity Industries. The Dallas-based company rose over 15% in May, boosted by orders for new railcars and barges. Trinity’s rail group generated record financial results in the first quarter and significantly increased its order backlog, but its barge component contributed as well. 

During the first quarter, Trinity received barge orders totaling approximately $215 million, which increased its barge backlog to $508 million at the end of March. With production slots for 2014 sold out, Trinity said orders are being taken for deliveries in 2015. 

“Demand for hopper barges is recovering as scrap prices improve and barge traffic along the inland waterways increases due to stronger exports of corn, wheat and soybeans,” William A. McWhirter, senior vice president and president of the inland barge group, said during the company’s first-quarter conference call with analysts. “Demand drivers for tank barges continues to be favorable, with backlogs in the industry stretching into 2015. As infrastructure investments in the energy sector are completed, we expect additional expansions in downstream markets, resulting in rising shipments of chemical and petrochemical commodities. As a result of the improvement in hopper barge demand and the level of orders taken during the quarter, we recently shifted some production capacity from smaller tank barges to hopper barges. We also enhanced our profit forecast for the inland barge group in 2014.” 

— David Krapf