Thursday, January 22, 2015

CP notches record 4Q income, operating ratio

Written by  Douglas John Bowen and William C. Vantuono
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Canadian Pacific early Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, announced record net income of C$451 million, of C$2.63 per diluted share, up 10% from the fourth quarter of 2013 and aiding the railroad's record low operating ratio of 59.8%.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 10% to another record, C$1.76 billion. Adjusted earnings for quarter reached C$460 million, or C$2.68 per share, from C$338 million, or C$1.91 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2013.

For the full 2014 year, CP notched a record C$6.62 billion in revenue, up 8% from 2013, and a record low operating ratio of 64.7%, "a 520-basis-point drop on an adjusted basis," the Calgary, Alberta-based Class I said. Reported earnings per share (EPS) rose 71% to a record C$8.46; adjusted EPS rose 32% to C$8.50.

"I am proud of the team at CP, which continues to build momentum as we exited the year with double-digit revenue growth and a sub-60 operating ratio, proving again our ability to control costs while growing the top line," said CEO E. Hunter Harrison. "In just two short years, CP has transformed from an industry laggard into a railway leader, and achieved its ambitious 2016 targets two full years ahead of schedule."

"CP's remarkable transformation has allowed it to exceed its operational and financial goals for 2014, positioning the company to be nimble in the near-term and successful in the long run," Harrison said. "CP fully recognizes the impact of short-term volatility in commodity prices, but given the diversity of its business and proven ability to control costs, we're confident in our ability to execute on our plan going forward."

"We are just getting started," Harrison said, noting CP is targeting revenue growth of 7%-to-8% for the year, and an operating ratio below 62%.

CP’s strong results come in the midst of falling crude oil traffic. The railroad downgraded its expected oil volumes for 2015 to 140,000 cars from 200,000 as crude producers cut budgets and reduce production with oil selling for under $50 (U.S.) a barrel. CP said it hauled 30,000 cars of crude in 2014’s fourth quarter, 1,000 fewer than the prior quarter.

“We have obviously seen commodity price declines that we had not expected,” said Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel.

Commented Cowen and Company Managing Director and Railway Age Wall Street Contributing Editor Jason Seidl, “Boom and bust have always defined exploration for energy. While I do not make predictions of oil prices or production it is safe to say that with prices at current levels, we would expect some volume pressure to hit the rails this year in term of crude and related (frac sand, water, pipe) material.”

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