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Rail News: Canadian Pacific

CP's Q1 profit soars, operating ratio drops to record low

Canadian Pacific this morning announced first-quarter 2016 net income rose 69 percent to $540 million from $320 million a year ago (in Canadian dollars), and its lowest ever first-quarter operating ratio, which came in at 58.9 percent.

CP reported diluted earnings per share increased 83 percent to $3.51 from $1.92, and adjusted diluted earnings per share grew 11 percent to $2.50 from $2.26 a year ago. Adjusted income rose 2 percent to $384 million from $375 million. Operating income rose 7 percent to $653 million from $612 million.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $1.59 billion from $1.67 billion a year ago, as the Class I faced challenges from volume headwinds, the Canadian economy and global markets, company officials said in a press release and Q1 conference call with analysts this morning.

CP officials attributed its stronger Q1 results to cost controls and efficiencies. Operating expenses declined about 11 percent to $938 million compared with Q1 2015. CP's operating ratio improved by 430 basis points year-over-year and was below 60 percent for the third consecutive quarter.

Chief Executive Officer Hunter Harrison said he was "extremely pleased" with the first-quarter results.

"The precision railroading model works in all economic environments," Harrison said. "Despite weakness in the economy and volume headwinds, we focused on what we can control — our costs and our commitment to providing reliable service — and delivered record performance."

In addition, company officials announced CP will launch a new share buyback program and increase its dividend to 50 cents per share, up from 35 cents. If approved by the Toronto Stock Exchange, the plan calls for the repurchase of up to 6.91 million of common shares, representing about 5 percent of CP's "public float" of common shares as of April 19.

"With the increase in our dividend and the new share repurchase program, we are renewing our commitment to return cash to shareholders in a disciplined manner that affirms our confidence in the long-term plan for CP," said Harrison in a press release.

Also, CP President and Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel said the company will consolidate its three operating regions to two: an East region and a West region. CP's U.S. operations will be part of the East region.

CP will hold its annual shareholders meeting this afternoon.

CP's quarterly report was the first following its decision to drop efforts to merge with Norfolk Southern Corp. In response to questions from analysts, Harrison said in the conference call that he still believes there is potential for consolidation in the railroad market.

"There are other opportunities that we are exploring," he said, declining to name specifics.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/20/2016