Burlington Northern Santa Fe
Burlington Northern Santa Fe boosted its first-quarter revenues slightly, thanks mainly to strong demand for shipments of soybeans and winter wheat.
But the 1.3 percent increase in revenues, to $2.29 billion from $2.26 billion, was not enough to overcome a 22 percent increase in fuel costs, a 4.4 percent increase in labor expenses and declining demand for auto shipments and a slower economy.
As a result, the company earned $134 million, or 34 cents per share, in the first quarter - a drop of 44.9 percent from the $243 million, or 55 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, the company would have reported earnings of $180 million, or 46 cents per share - a decline of 25.9 percent from the same period a year earlier.
BNSF's first-quarter operating profit -- profit before interest, taxes and accounting items -- declined to $419 million, down from $510 million in the same period in 2000.
Canadian National Railway
Canadian National Railway reported first-quarter net income of C$202 million (US$130 million), or C$1.03 a share, up 3% from the comparable period a year earlier.
CN President Paul Tellier said the company posted higher revenue, net income and earnings per share, despite harsh winter weather and "pockets of weakness in the North American economy."
The results don't include a US$47 million after-tax gain from the sale of CN's half-share in Detroit River Tunnel Co. The company had net income of US$126 million in the first quarter of 2000.
Operating income was essentially flat for the quarter at US$248 million. CN's operating ratio, a key indicator of a railroad's health, rose to 72.5% from 72.2%.
Revenue in the quarter rose 2% to US$901 million, but expenses rose 2% to $653 million. Carloads were flat at 952,000.
The 2% increase in operating expenses was due mostly to fuel price increases. There were lower expenses for labor and benefits and for purchased services.
Canadian Pacific Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway is eliminating 500 jobs and taking other cost-cutting measures after it reported the weakest first-quarter results among the divisions of parent Canadian Pacific Ltd.
The railway's earnings fell to $68-million from $85-million a year earlier, whereas the other four operating divisions posted gains.
The railway's operating ratio, a key measure of efficiency, jumped 3.9 points in the quarter to 83.4%. By comparison, rival Canadian National Railway Co.'s was 72.5% in the first three months.
Grain, industrial products and intermodal revenue was up, but coal, sulfur and fertilizer, forest products and automotive were down.
CPR will trim about 500 jobs through attrition, cancelled contracts and layoffs as it aims to hit a low-70s operating ratio for the year. CPR had about 17,500 employees at the start of the year. The slowing economy, bad winter weather that resulted in more accidents and higher fuel prices conspired to increase expenses 5.6% year-over-year at CPR.
CSX Corp.'s first-quarter earnings fell 31 percent, with higher demand for coal shipping offsetting weaker shipping levels for grain and other commodities amid the U.S. economic slowdown.
But the company called coal "a big story" because it helped support first-quarter earnings and appears to be the railroad's main strength moving forward in uncertain economic times.
CSX reported a net income of $20 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with $29 million, or 14 cents a share, a year ago. Revenues were flat at $2.025 billion after $2.034 billion a year earlier.
CSX's overall traffic levels fell by more than 100,000 loads, or 2 percent, compared with a year earlier, mostly due to the slowing demand in the cooler U.S. economy. The railroad credits its focus on tight cost controls combined with good service for its ability to make prices stick and improve revenues, despite fewer carloads moved. CSX said the number of carloads carrying automotive merchandise fell 20 percent, but carloads carrying coal rose 9 percent.
CSX cut 670 jobs through attrition during the quarter and took 250 rail cars out of service to help cut costs.
Kansas City Southern Industries, Inc.
Kansas City Southern Industries Inc. reported that its first-quarter profit from continuing operations, and before one-time items, slumped 39 percent as its costs soared because of derailments.
The railroad, which was also hit by reduced demand for its freight services in the U.S., said its profit - before debt retirement costs and the impact of a change in accounting policy - dropped to $6.3 million, or 11 cents per share, from $10.4 million, or 18 cents in the year-earlier period.
Its revenues dropped to $144.0 million from $148.9 million, while costs and expenses climbed to $123.5 million from $116.6 million. Casualty and insurance costs rose $8.5 million, mainly due to several major derailments and the settlement of personal injury claims. The railroad's derailment expense in the first quarter nearly exceeded the entire year of 2000, the company said.
KCS said the derailments had also led to higher car costs, which rose by about $3.8 million from a year ago.
Income from the company's U.S. operations per diluted share was nil compared with 12 cents a share a year earlier.
KCS said its main source of earnings in the quarter was its 37 percent stake in Mexico's Grupo Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana S.A. Its earnings from that source climbed to $11.1 million from $8.2 million.
Norfolk Southern Corp.
Norfolk Southern Corp.'s first-quarter income more than quadrupled as it trimmed costs and as high natural gas prices boosted demand for coal. The company reported first quarter income of $61 million, or 16 cents a share, before special items, compared with $14 million, or 4 cents a share, a year earlier. The railroad's revenues rose 2 percent to $1.54 billion from $1.51 billion in the year-earlier period.
The railroad reported a one-time gain of $13 million, or 3 cents a share, from the sale of its subsidiary North American Van Lines Inc. Net income for the 2001 period, including that gain, was $74 million, or 19 cents a share. That compared with a net loss of $48 million, or 12 cents a share, a year earlier, which reflected a charge of $62 million, or 16 cents a share, for work force reductions.
Norfolk Southern cut up to 9 percent of its work force last year and another 4 percent in the first quarter, leaving a total work force of about 31,000 employees. The company still plans on cutting another 1,000 jobs. The railroad slashed its dividend and got rid of 6,700 freight cars in the first quarter, which saved it $24 million, as part of a restructuring plan to combat the slowing U.S. economy.
Operating expenses for the first quarter fell 3 percent to $1.34 billion from $1.38 billion a year earlier, excluding last year's work force reduction charge, due to reduced compensation and benefit costs, the company said.
Union Pacific Corp.
Union Pacific Corp. said that it met analysts' estimates for first quarter earnings of 72 cents a share, despite a sluggish economy. The company reported net income of $181 million for the Jan. 1-March 31 period.
That's down slightly from the $185 million, 74 cents a share, in the first quarter a year ago.
Operating revenues were $2.94 billion, up slightly from $2.91 billion a year ago. Shipping of commodities, such as agricultural products and coal, and intermodal services and shipping to Mexico increased.
However, hauling of economically sensitive commodities, such as automobiles and chemicals, tied to the auto industry and home building, and industrial products all decreased. Expenses increased 2 percent to $2.5 billion from last year's first quarter. That hike was driven largely by fuel prices that were $35 million higher than year-earlier levels and inclement winter weather.
UP said two-thirds of the 2,000 job eliminations announced last December will be completed by the end of the second quarter with attrition to continue throughout the year. UP said it will focus on a $1 billion West Coast market with new shipping options.
Wisconsin Central Ltd.
Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp. reported net income for the first quarter ended March 31 of $11.6 million ($.25 per diluted common share) compared to first quarter 2000 net income of $12.6 million ($.25 per diluted common share).
The company's North American operating income for first quarter 2001 was $16.8 million compared to $18.1 million in the year-ago quarter.
First quarter North American operating revenues of $92.7 million were a first-quarter record, topping last year's record revenues of $91.9 million. Coal and wood fibers showed strong gains. First quarter North American operating expenses were $75.9 million, up 3 percent from last year's $73.8 million. The operating ratio (operating expenses as a percentage of operating revenues) was 81.9 percent versus 80.3 percent for the year-ago quarter.
The company's first quarter 2001 results included equity in net income
of international affiliates of $5.1 million, an increase of 13 percent compared
to the year-ago quarter. The primary international contributions were from
the English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS), and from Australia's Tranz
Rail Holdings Limited (Tranz Rail).
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers