CP books higher Q4 grain revenue on reduced handle

(File photo by Dave Bedard)

Increased revenue from grain handling — albeit on a slightly lower overall grain handle — helped Canadian Pacific Railway improve its fourth-quarter and year-end gross for 2018.

Calgary-based CP on Jan. 23 reported overall net income of $545 million on $2.006 billion in revenues for its fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, down from $984 million on $1.713 billion in its year-earlier Q4.

Its full-year 2018 ledger showed $1.951 billion in overall net income on $7.316 billion in revenue, down from $2.405 billion on $6.554 billion in 2017.

CEO Keith Creel, in the company’s release, said CP “set records across many lines of business in 2018, including Canadian grain, potash and domestic intermodal.”

The full fiscal year, he said, was “a record by almost every measure and will be remembered as a watershed year for our company.”

The company noted its fourth quarter alone included record operating income (revenues less operating expenses, before income tax and “other” expenses) of $874 million, and record adjusted diluted earnings per share of $4.55.

CP, in its year-end report, didn’t break out its numbers for Canadian grain, but reported total Q4 grain handle of about 114,900 carloads, down slightly from 115,100 in its previous Q4.

Full-year grain handle for 2018 came in at about 429,400 carloads, down three per cent from 440,700 in 2017.

Revenue from grain freight for 2018 Q4 reached $453 million, up $28 million from the year-earlier period, for revenue per grain carload of $3.945, up $255.

Full-year grain revenue for 2018 reached $1.566 billion, up $34 million from 2017, for revenue per carload of $3,645, up $168.

Fourth-quarter and full-year revenue per carload rose across all CP’s freight categories, including fertilizers and sulphur ($4,450, up $332, in Q4, and $4,186, up $8, for the year) and potash ($3,126, up $210, in Q4 and $3,071, up $83, for the year).

For full-year 2019, CP said it expects “double-digit” growth in adjusted diluted earnings per share, compared to its full-year adjusted diluted EPS of $14.51 in 2018.

It also expects “mid-single-digit” growth in traffic volumes in 2019, as measured in revenue ton miles (RTMs) — a transportation industry metric calculated by multiplying freight weight by the number of miles the freight is transported.

In 2018, CP’s total RTMs reached 154.2 billion, up eight per cent from 2017; of that total, 36.86 billion RTMs were in grain, down one per cent from 2017. –– Glacier FarmMedia Network

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