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Rail News: Union Pacific Railroad
Slower freight-rail volume hit UP's bottom line in Q3
Union Pacific Railroad's third-quarter 2019 earnings were weaker than expected by Wall Street analysts, as freight-rail volumes continued to decline in a slower economy.
The Class I reported today that net income for the quarter was $1.6 billion, or $2.22 diluted earnings per share (EPS), compared to $1.6 billion, or $2.15 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago, UP officials said today in a press release.
The railroad's EPS for the quarter missed Wall Street's consensus estimate of $2.33, according to Benjamin Hartford, senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. Baird's Q3 estimate for UP was $2.29.
UP posted an operating ratio of 59.5 percent for the quarter, a 2.2 point-improvement over the same period last year and a quarterly record for the Class I. Operating income fell 2 percent to $2.2 billion and operating revenue dropped 7 percent to $5.5 billion compared to Q3 2018's numbers.
"Given the challenging volume environment we delivered solid third-quarter financial results, including an all-time best quarterly operating ratio of 59.5 percent," said UP Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Fritz. "The work our employees are doing as part of Unified Plan 2020 is foundational to the company's success and I am confident there are additional improvement opportunities going forward for our customers and shareholders."
UP's Q3 freight revenue declined 7 percent, as core pricing gains were offset by lower volumes, decreased fuel surcharge revenue and negative mix. Specifically, agricultural products revenue declined 1 percent; industrial was down 1 percent; premium, down 9 percent; and energy, down 20 percent.
For the rest of 2019, UP will continue to build on the successes of its operating plan, Unified Plan 2020, Fritz said.
"We remain squarely focused on driving long-term shareholder value by appropriately investing in the railroad and returning excess cash to our shareholders," he said.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.