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Rail News: Union Pacific Railroad

UP sets first-quarter earnings and revenue records, lowers operating ratio

Union Pacific Railroad needed to get off on the right foot financially in 2006 after stumbling at the start of 2005. It did. Today, the Class I reported best-ever first-quarter earnings of $1.15 per diluted share, which more than doubled first-quarter 2005 earnings. Net income of $311 million nearly tripled last year’s total.

In addition, UP set quarterly records for operating revenue at $3.7 billion and commodity revenue at $3.5 billion, which rose 16 percent and 18 percent, respectively, compared with first-quarter 2005. Quarterly operating income of $605 million increased 93 percent and the railroad’s operating ratio of 83.7 improved 6.4 points.

“This is our best quarterly operating ratio in over two years,” said UP Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Robert Knight Jr. at the Class I’s first-quarter earnings conference today.

However, quarterly operating expenses rose 9 percent to $3.1 billion compared with first-quarter 2005. The main reason: The railroad paid an average quarterly fuel price of $1.87 per gallon, up 29 percent compared with $1.45 per gallon a year ago.

“This quarter was positive for us in many ways,” said UP President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Young in a prepared statement. “We experienced record growth in our business, moved these volumes more efficiently and improved our bottom-line results. We have a long way to go before we are satisfied with our service, velocity and returns, but are confident in our plans for improvement.”

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More News from 4/20/2006