UPDATE 2-CN Rail reports modest rise in third-quarter earnings

Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:42pm EDT
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* Third-quarter net profit C$1.52/share, up from C$1.46

* Will buy back up to 18 mln shares in repurchase program

* Reaffirms 2012 forecast, will issue 2013 guidance in Q4

* Despite caution on economy, sees revenue growth

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co , Canada's largest rail operator, posted a modest increase in quarterly profit on Monday as revenues climbed for all its business segments, and affirmed its full-year forecast despite its caution over the economy.

CN also said it will put its strong balance sheet toward a C$1.4 billion ($1.41 billion) share buyback program, in which it will purchase up to 18 million common shares.

Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough said that, overall, the results represent "just an OK quarter," with some positive notes. "I will say that the share buyback for C$1.4 billion is a positive number - that's pretty big," he said.

The Montreal-based company also maintained its guidance for 2012 earnings per share growth of 15 percent over 2011 and free cash flow generation of about C$1 billion.   Continued...