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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF posts revenue, income growth in 2018


BNSF Railway Co. posted fourth-quarter operating income of $2.1 billion, up 3 percent over the same quarter's results in 2017.

A subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., BNSF logged quarterly revenue of $6.2 billion, up 10 percent, and a net income of $1.4 billion, up 30 percent, compared with 2017's results, according to a BNSF financial performance summary.

For full-year 2018, BNSF reported operating income of $7.8 billion, up 7 percent, and total revenue of $23.9 billion, up 12 percent, compared with 2017's results. Year over year, Q4 net income climbed 34 percent to $5.2 billion.

The Class I's 2017 results were adjusted to exclude the impacts of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Average revenue per car/unit rose 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in Q4 and full-year 2018 as a result of increased rates per car/unit, higher fuel surcharges driven by higher fuel prices and business mix changes.

Business unit volume results for Q4 and the full year were as follows:
• Consumer products were flat and increased 3 percent, respectively, due to higher domestic intermodal volumes. The increases were driven by economic growth and tight truck capacity leading some shippers to convert from highway to rail. Also driving the results was growth in imports and containerized agricultural product exports, partially offset by a contract loss.
• Industrial products volumes climbed 7 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Strength in the industrial and energy sectors in 2018 drove higher demand for petroleum products, building products, and plastics. Full-year 2018 also included higher construction products volumes.
 • Agricultural products volumes rose 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, due to strong export and domestic corn shipments, as well as higher fertilizer and other grain products volumes, partially offset by a reduction in soybean exports. The full year also included a reduction in wheat exports.
• Coal volumes increased 5 percent and decreased 1 percent, respectively. The full-year decrease is primarily due to plant retirements combined with competition from natural gas and renewables, mostly offset by market share gains and improved export volumes. The Q4 increase was driven by higher natural gas prices, which led to increased utility coal usage, combined with lower overall utility inventories.

The Class I also reported that operating expenses for both the quarter and full year rose 14 percent compared with the same periods in 2017 due to inflation, higher fuel prices and increased volumes.

BNSF posted an operating ratio of 65.6 percent for Q4 versus 65.3 percent in Q4 2017. For the full year, the operating ratio increased 0.8 points to 66.2 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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