More powerful than a speeding locomotive, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies pulls out all the stops. The company (dba Wabtec) manufactures braking equipment and other parts for locomotives, freight cars, and passenger railcars. Products made by Wabtec's Freight group include air brake systems, draft gears, hand brakes, slack adjusters, heat exchanges, railroad electronics, and monitoring and control equipment. Wabtec's Transit business supplies replacement parts and repair services to operators of passenger transit systems. Major customers include Electro-Motive Diesel, General Electric Transportation, Union Pacific, and CSX Transportation. North America generates almost 70% of sales.
The company's operations extend to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the US.
The company divides its operations into two primary groups: Freight and transit. Freight constituted as its largest segment in 2011 (61% of sales) and makes and services components for new and existing freight cars and locomotives. Its Transit group (39%) makes and services components for passenger transit vehicles such as subway cars and buses.
With the recession behind it, Wabtec has achieved historic growth over the years. From 2010 to 2011 its total sales increased by 31%, rising to almost $2 billion, while its profits surged by 38%, reaching $170 million. (Both these numbers represented the highest totals for the company in the last 10 years.)
Revenues for its Freight group increased by 54% in 2011 due to higher sales from specialty products and electronics, primarily stemming from increased demand for original equipment rail products, original equipment heat exchange products and aftermarket rail products. The overall revenue growth from 2010 to 2011 was also attributed to previous acquisitions; specifically, it recognized a 6% jump in total sales for 2011 by entering the markets of Brazil and France.
Wabtec makes acquisitions and enters joint ventures in select markets to achieve growth. In 2011 the company obtained Bearward Engineering, a UK-based maker of cooling systems for power generation and industrial sectors, for roughly $44 million. Also that year, it picked up UK-based Brush Traction Group for about $31 million to strengthen its reputation as an aftermarket service provider in the UK. Brush Traction provides maintenance and overhauls locomotives and has expertise in high-speed rail.
Wabtec in 2011 acquired Brazil-based Adantech Industria e Comercio de Metal, a manufacturer of friction products. Continuing its penetration into the country even further, in 2012 it snapped up Winco Equipamentos Ferroviarios, an engineering and logistics firm based in Brazil serving freight rail and passenger transit customers.
In addition to South America, Wabtec has its eye on Australia, South Africa, and certain countries in Europe for expansion. With China also on its list of interest, Wabtec established Hunan CSR Wabtec Railway Transportation Technology Co., Ltd -- a 50/50 joint venture with electrical control equipment manufacturer Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric. The two companies provide development, manufacturing, sales, and maintenance of rail track vehicle braking systems in that populous country. – less