CN net income up 13% on demand

by World Grain Staff
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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, U.S. — CN reported on April 20 that net income increased to 13% to C$704 million, or C86¢ per share, for the first quarter due to strong freight demand and continued productivity improvements.

Net income for the same period a year earlier was C$623 million, or C$0.75 per diluted share. First-quarter 2015 diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased 30% to C86¢ from adjusted diluted EPS of C66¢ a year earlier, which excluded a gain on a rail line sale.

"CN turned in a solid first-quarter performance thanks to strong freight demand and continued productivity improvements, helped in part by easier winter conditions compared with last year's polar vortex,” said Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer. "CN is pleased to affirm its outlook for double-digit EPS growth in 2015 versus last year's adjusted diluted EPS of C$3.76, despite weaker than expected energy markets and a mixed economy.

First-quarter operating income increased 30% to C$1.063 billion. First-quarter 2015 revenues increased 15% to C$3.098 billion, revenue ton-miles grew by 7%, and carloadings increased 9%.

Revenues increased for grain and fertilizers (24%), forest products (23%), automotive (23%), metals and minerals (22%), petroleum and chemicals (13%), and intermodal (11%). Coal revenues declined by 13%.

The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; higher volumes of Canadian grain and potash; strong overseas intermodal demand; higher shipments of lumber and panels to U.S. markets; higher volumes of frac sand; and freight rate increases. These factors were partly offset by decreased shipments of coal due to weaker global demand. Overall, revenues were favorably affected by improved operating conditions due to a more normal winter when compared with the same period of 2014, which enhanced the company's ability to serve its customers.

Carloadings for the quarter rose by 9% to 1.353 million.

Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, CN's net income for the first quarter of 2015 would have been lower by C$56 million, or C7¢ per diluted share.

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