(Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co (CNR.TO) reported a 19 percent rise in third-quarter profit on Tuesday thanks to record carloadings and revenues, strong operational execution and cost controls.
CN, Canada’s biggest railroad, said earnings rose to C$659 million ($646 million), or C$1.46 a diluted share, in the three months to the end of September.
That compared with earnings of C$556 million, or C$1.19 a share, a year ago.
The results included an after-tax gain of C$38 million, or 8 Canadian cents a share, on the sale of almost all of the assets of IC RailMarine Terminal Co.
Adjusted to exclude the sale, earnings came in at C$1.38 a share. Analysts, on average, had expected CN to earn C$1.31 a share.
Revenue increased 9 percent to C$2.3 billion, in line with analysts’ expectations.
“The 4 percent rise in carloadings and 9 percent increase in revenues outpaced general economic activity during the quarter, reflecting CN’s improved service and market positioning,” Chief Executive Claude Mongeau said in a statement.
CN also announced a new share repurchase program, to be launched on October 28, to buy back up to 17 million common shares.
The company said its operating ratio - an important measure of a railroad’s productivity - fell to 59.3 percent in the quarter, a 1.4-point improvement over the 60.7 percent ratio a year ago.
The lower the ratio, which measures operating costs as a percentage of revenue, the more efficient the railway. CN has one of the lowest ratios among railroads in North America.
CN’s earnings come a few hours after smaller rival Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) reported a 5 percent fall in third quarter earnings and laid out a winter operating plan to prevent a repeat of the service disruptions it encountered earlier this year from harsh weather.
Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson