UPDATE 2-CN Railway profit up 18 pct as high rates offset weaker volume

Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:00pm EDT
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(Adds information about CEO's health; details from conference call)

By Allison Lampert

Oct 27 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co on Tuesday reported an 18 percent rise in quarterly profit, as higher freight rates helped lift revenue despite lower volumes.

The company's net income rose to C$1.01 billion ($761.5 million), or C$1.26 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 from C$853 million, or C$1.04 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 3.3 percent to C$3.22 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast earnings per share of C$1.15.

CN, Canada's largest railroad, reaffirmed that it continues to expect double-digit growth in earnings for the full year, despite weaker volumes for coal.

CN Rail's operating ratio, a key efficiency measure, declined five points to 53.8 percent for the third quarter, compared with the same period a year earlier. The ratio expresses operating costs as a percentage of revenue, so lower values are better.

The company, which said it froze hiring and laid off about 600 workers in the second quarter, now has 1,100 fewer employees than during the same period in 2014.   Continued...