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Rail News: Financials

CN sets operating ratio record of 57.4 in third quarter


Revenue gains, cost control and better asset utilization helped Canadian National Railway Co. post its lowest-ever quarterly operating ratio in the third quarter at 57.4. The only Class I to attain a ratio below 60 — and under 70 for that matter — improved its quarterly ratio 5.9 points compared with third-quarter 2005.

CN made other strides in the quarter, as well. Revenue totaling $1.8 billion increased 9 percent (six of CN’s seven commodity groups posted revenue increases), operating income totaling $751 million rose 27 percent, net income totaling $443 million went up 21 percent and diluted earnings per share of 84 cents increased 27 percent compared with similar third-quarter 2005 data. In addition, freight volume rose 6 percent, carloadings went up 2 percent and revenue ton-miles increased 6 percent.

Quarterly operating expenses of $1 billion decreased 1 percent compared with third-quarter 2005 primarily because of lower casualty and labor costs, and a favorable impact of the stronger Canadian dollar on U.S. dollar-denominated expenses.

“The top line benefited from the underlying strength of the diverse and balanced portfolio of commodities that CN transports, as well as freight rate increases,” said CN President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison in a prepared statement. “Cost control was again outstanding — operating expenses declined … despite an increase in workload and much higher fuel expenses.”

During 2006’s first nine months, revenue increased 8 percent to $5.1 billion, operating income rose 19 percent to $2 billion, net income went up 41 percent to $1.4 billion and CN’s operating ratio improved 3.8 points to 60.6. Operating expenses increased 1 percent to $3.1 billion primarily because of higher fuel, purchased services and material costs, and depreciation.

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