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Freight hauling railroad $UNP reported more than 100% surge in 4Q17 net income, driven by the impact of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Net income was $7.2Bil or $9.25 per share compared to a net income of $1.14Bil or $1.39 per share a year earlier. Revenue rose 5% to $5.45Bil. On an adjusted basis, $UNP earned $1.53 per share, up 10% YoY.
$UNP said, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, over 1,700 miles of track were out of service, and more than 2,400 route miles were affected. Terminal dwell increased 7% in 3Q17 compared to last year, the railroad said, adding that the restoration works were completed within 10 days.
$UNP's 3Q17 business volumes, as measured by total revenue carloads, slipped 1% YoY. Volume increases in industrial products were more than offset by declines in agricultural products, automotive, chemicals and coal. Meanwhile the railroad's quarterly freight revenue rose 4% YoY, driven by increased fuel surcharge revenue.
Riding on a 5% improvement in operating revenues in 3Q17, $UNP reported 6% growth in net income during the quarter to $1.19Bil, or $1.50 per share. Operating revenue rose to $5.41Bil from $5.17Bil a year ago, despite the company being forced to close over 36 stations in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey.
$UNP said it expects average coal volumes to be up sequentially in 3Q17, but relatively flat YoY. The railroad added that in 2H17, coal volumes will face tough YoY comps, but absolute volumes will be sustained sequentially if natural gas prices and export demand are maintained.
In 2Q17, $UNP's freight revenue improved 11% YoY, driven by higher volume and fuel surcharge revenue. Coal freight revenue shone with a 25% growth, followed by Industrial Products, which was up 24%. Coal freight volumes have picked up over the past two quarters. Its plunge had been a major area of concern for the company over the past two years.
As improvement of coal freight continued into 2Q17, $UNP said its operating revenue for the quarter grew 10% to $5.3Bil, The railroad operator added that it expects absolute business volumes to improve in 2H17. Net income was $1.2Bil, or $1.45 per share, compared to $979MM, or $1.17 per share last year. Operating ratio improved 3.4 points to 61.8%.
Railroad operating company $UNP has decided to consolidate its Council Bluffs Service Unit management with the Twin Cities, North Platte and Chicago service units, effective July 15. The company will also reassign five management positions to other locations as part of realigning its operations.
Union Pacific Railroad, the principal operating company of $UNP, said it is boosting safety and efficiency with about $2.5MM infrastructure investment in Wisconsin this year. Projects funded by Union Pacific benefit Wisconsin's overall transportation infrastructure without taxpayer funds.
$UNP plans to invest approx. $14MM in its Minnesota rail infrastructure in 2017. The investment plan includes $13MM to maintain railroad track and bridge and signal projects. A key project planned in 2017 is a $9.6MM investment in the rail line between Glenville and St. Paul to replace 76,064 railroad ties and install 50,661 tons of rock ballast.
$UNP plans to invest approx. $23MM in infrastructure in New Mexico during 2017. This plan includes $22MM to maintain railroad track and $1MM in other improvements. Key projects planned in 2017 include a $14MM investment in the rail line between Carrizozo and Fort Bliss and a $1.6MM investment in the rail line across Lordsburg.
$UNP is planning to invest $24MM in its Arizona rail infrastructure this year, as part of an ongoing investment strategy. The project includes $21MM to maintain railroad track and $2MM to maintain bridges in the state. This year, Union Pacific intends to spend a total of $3.1Bil across its network.