Grain revenue offsets CN’s slightly lower year-end profit

Small improvements in grain revenue, on slightly fewer carloads, has helped offset slightly lower profits on record-level overall revenue in Canadian National Railway’s (CN) year-end ledger.

Montreal-based CN on Thursday reported overall net income of $635 million on $2.745 billion in revenues for its fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, up from $610 million on $2.534 billion in the year-earlier period.

For all of 2013, CN booked $2.612 billion in profit on a record $10.575 billion in revenues — down from $2.68 billion on $9.92 billion in fiscal 2012.

Its full-year total carloadings for 2013 also reached a record 5.19 million — up three per cent from 2012 — based on increases mainly in fuel/chemical and intermodal carloads, up three and eight per cent respectively.

The railway reported $469 million in revenue from its grain and fertilizer market segment in its Q4, up from $459 million in the year-earlier period. Q4 grain and fertilizer carloads were flat at about 171,000 compared to the year-earlier handle.

For the full year, CN booked $1.61 billion in grain and fertilizer revenue, up one per cent from $1.59 billion in 2012 — but in 2013, the railway handled about 572,000 carloads of grain and fertilizers, down four per cent from 597,000 in 2012.

That puts Q4 revenue per grain and fertilizer carload at $2,743, up two per cent from the year-earlier Q4, while full-year grain and fertilizer revenue per carload rose six per cent, to $2,815.

CN’s CEO Claude Mongeau said the company “sees good opportunities in 2014 in a number of markets, including intermodal, oil-and-gas-related commodities, Canadian and U.S. grain, and commodities related to the recovery in the U.S. housing market.”

In its outlook for 2014, CN said it’s assuming a U.S. 2013-14 grain crop above the five-year average, a Canadian 2013-14 grain crop “well above” the five-year average, and 2014-15 grain crops in both countries “in line” with the five-year average.

CN said its rise in total revenues was “largely due to freight rate increases; higher freight volumes due to strong energy markets, market share gains, as well as growth in the North American economy; the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; and the impact of a higher fuel surcharge, mainly as a result of higher volumes.” — Network

Related story:
Jump in grain revenue helps CP to record gross, Jan. 30, 2014

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