Grain handle up as CN books record freight in 2014

(Photo courtesy CN)

Canadian National Railway (CN) reported increased revenue from a higher grain and fertilizer handle as part of its “record full-year freight volumes” for fiscal 2014.

The railway on Tuesday released fourth-quarter and 12-month results, booking substantially higher revenues and profit in 2014 over 2013.

Montreal-based CN reported $844 million in net income on $3.207 billion in overall revenue for the three months ending Dec. 31, up from $635 million on $2.745 billion in the year-earlier period.

It also reported $3.167 billion profit on $12.134 billion in revenue for the full year, up from $2.612 billion on $10.575 billion in 2013.

The railway’s Q4 concludes “a remarkable year characterized by brutal first-quarter winter weather, followed by a strong rebound starting in March, and capped by record full-year freight volumes,” CEO Claude Mongeau said in a release.

CN said its rise in total revenues was “mainly attributable to higher freight volumes due to a record 2013-14 Canadian grain crop; strong energy markets, particularly crude oil and frac sand; new intermodal and automotive business; the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues; and freight rate increases.”

“We’re particularly proud of our solid operating performance that allowed us to move record volumes of western Canadian grain and equally strong U.S. grain shipments,” Mongeau said.

In its commodity segment-by-segment breakdown of revenue from carloads hauled, CN’s financials report only its overall combined Canadian and U.S. grain and fertilizer handle.

CN, whose U.S. track system reaches centres such as Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, St. Louis and New Orleans, said in an email it does not disclose separate Canadian and U.S. grain tonnages.

For its Q4, CN reported total grain and fertilizer freight revenue of $560 million from 175,000 carloads, up from $476 million on 171,000 carloads in the year-earlier period, for revenue per carload of $3,200 in 2014, up 15 per cent from 2013.

For full-year 2014, CN booked $1.986 billion in revenue from 640,000 carloads of grain and fertilizers, up from $1.638 billion on 572,000 carloads in 2013, for revenue per carload of $3,103 in 2014, up eight per cent from 2013.

In terms of increased revenue, CN’s grain and fertilizers segment showed the largest year-over-year jump at 21 per cent, in a tie with its petroleum and chemicals segment, and ahead of metals and minerals, up 20 per cent.

Looking ahead in 2015, Mongeau said the company sees “continued opportunities for growth in energy-related commodities, intermodal traffic, and commodities tied to U.S. housing construction, automotive sales and other consumer spending.” –– Network

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