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Rail News: Financials

Q1 report: BNSF ratcheted up revenue, ratcheted down operating ratio

Late last week, BNSF Railway Co. released a financial performance report for the first quarter that shows the Class I offset weak coal and grain traffic with strong crude oil and domestic intermodal business.

The railroad's total revenue rose 6 percent to $5.3 billion, operating income jumped 16 percent to $1.5 billion, net income climbed 14 percent to $798 million, operating ratio improved 2.7 points to 71.7 and volume increased 3 percent to 2.4 million units compared with first-quarter 2012 figures.

By business segment:

• Consumer products revenue rose 8 percent to $1.7 billion and volume increased 5 percent to 1.2 million units primarily because of higher domestic intermodal business driven by highway conversions;

• Industrial products revenue soared 18 percent to $1.4 billion and volume climbed 14 percent to 448,000 units mostly due to strong petroleum products business;

• Coal revenue dropped 3 percent to $1.2 billion and volume dipped 3 percent to 542,000 units because of utilities' focus on reducing high stockpiles; and

• Agricultural products revenue declined 4 percent to $911 million and volume fell 7 percent to 244,000 units primarily due to weak corn and soybean exports associated with the extreme U.S. drought last summer.

The report also shows that BNSF's Q1 operating expenses rose 2 percent year over year to $3.8 billion due to larger traffic volumes, inflation and higher fuel costs — the average price per gallon of diesel increased 2 percent in the quarter to $3.21. Compensation and benefits costs ratcheted up 2 percent to $1.1 billion; fuel costs also rose 2 percent to $1.1 billion; purchased services costs climbed 8 percent to $617 million; and depreciation/amortization costs increased 4 percent to $483 million.

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