OMAHA, NEBRASKA, U.S. — Net income at Union Pacific Railroad (UP) totaled $5.966 billion in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2018, equal to $7.95 per share on the common stock, down 44% from $10.712 billion, or $13.42 per share, in fiscal 2017. Fiscal 2018 results included an income tax expense of $1.775 billion, while 2017 results included a benefit of $3.080 billion. Operating income was $8.517 billion in fiscal 2018, up 5% from $8.106 billion a year ago.
Operating revenues at UP in fiscal 2018 increased to $22.832 billion, up 7% from $21.240 billion a year ago.
UP said revenues in its Agricultural Products unit increased 4% in the year to $4.469 billion. During the fourth quarter, revenues in the division rose 5% to $1.124 billion.
“Ag Products revenue was up 5% on a 2% decrease in volume and a 7% increase in average revenue per car,” Kenyatta G. Rocker, executive vice-president of marketing and sales, said during a Jan. 24 conference call with analysts. “Grain carloads were down 10%, driven by reduced soybean shipment to China. This was partially offset by growth in other feed grain shipment, predominantly to the mid-South and Mexico.
“Grain products carloads were up 2% as the same demand for biofuels drove increases in biodiesel, renewable diesel fuel and soybean oil markets. This was partially offset by tariff-related challenges in mills and slowing ethanol growth year-over-year.”
Rocker said UP expects uncertainty to continue in the grain market in 2019 due to foreign tariffs.
“We anticipate continued strength in biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel shipments due to an increase in market demand for renewable fuels that will offset headwinds within the ethanol marketplace,” he said. “We also expect tight truck capacity, combined with the value of rail, to support long-term penetration growth across multiple segments in our food and refrigerated business.”