UPDATE 4-CN Rail's '13 profit forecast disappoints, shares dip

Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:11pm EST
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* CN sees high single-digit EPS growth in 2013

* Quarterly profit rises, matches expectations

* Quarterly dividend increased 15 pct

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway forecast 2013 profits on Tuesday that fell short of analyst expectations, sending shares of the country's biggest rail carrier lower, even as it posted higher quarterly earnings and increased its dividend.

The Montreal-based railway said it expects earnings per share in 2013 will grow in the high-single digits, on a percentage basis, a marked slowdown from the past two years.

CN stock, which has powered about 19 percent higher over the past year, closed down just over 1 percent on the TSX.

"If you look at the earnings growth that they're calling for, high single digits, that's down from roughly 16 percent last year," said Raymond James analyst Steve Hansen.

"Which really does suggest the cycle's maturing a little bit here and that brings in the question, what multiple you're willing to pay for the stock.   Continued...