Strong pricing, volume growth, power Union Pacific in 4Q

January 24, 2019
FILE- In this July 31, 2018, file photo a Union Pacific train travels through Union, Neb. Union Pacific Corp. reports financial results Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Union Pacific delivered strong fourth-quarter results because the railroad delivered 3 percent more freight and increased prices.

The railroad reported Thursday it had net income of $1.55 billion, or $2.12 per share. That’s 6 cents better than expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. It’s also 29 percent better than last year’s adjusted income of $1.2 billion, or $1.53 per share

Revenue was $5.76 billion, also edging out expectations and 6 percent higher than the previous year.

Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz said the railroad is also starting to see results from its effort to streamline its operations that began in October. The railroad has already stored 1,200 locomotives as it works to haul freight more efficiently.

Edward Jones analyst Dan Sherman said the key will be how quickly and efficiently the railroad can implement the reforms.

Union Pacific expects to record at least $500 million in productivity improvements in 2019 as it implements some of the operating principles that have led to dramatic improvements in the profitability of rival CSX over the last two years.

“We have improved on-time service for our customers while at the same time eliminating excess costs and improving the utilization of network resources,” Fritz said.

The railroad said demand from customers remained strong in the fourth quarter, suggesting that the economy continues to grow at a steady pace.

The ongoing trade disputes create some uncertainty about certain products, but Union Pacific still expects volume will continue growing at a low-single-digit rate.

Shares of Union Pacific Corp., based in Omaha, Nebraska, are up nearly 4 percent, or $5.95, to $160.28 midday Thursday.

Union Pacific shares have increased 12 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen slightly more than 5 percent. The stock has risen 9 percent in the last 12 months.

Union Pacific operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 Western states.


Portions of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on UNP at https://www.zacks.com/ap/UNP

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