April 23, 2012 / 8:14 PM / 6 years ago

CN Rail sees 2012 profit at top end of forecast

(Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Corp (CNR.TO) said on Monday its full-year earnings would come in at the top end of an earlier forecast after a mild winter and an improving economy helped Canada’s biggest railroad boost first-quarter earnings by 16 percent.

After adjustments, CN now expects diluted earnings per share to rise by 10 percent for all of 2012, up from diluted EPS of C$4.84 for 2011. Previously CN forecast an increase in earnings of up to 10 percent this year.

Net income for the first three months of 2012 rose to C$775 million ($778.93 million), or C$1.75 a share, from C$668 million, or C$1.45, in the same period of 2011, CN reported. Excluding certain items, EPS came in at C$1.18 a share.

CN’s operating ratio, which measures operating costs as a percentage of revenue, improved to 66.2 percent from 69 percent in the year-earlier period. The lower the number, the more efficient the operation.

Revenues increased 13 percent to C$2.3 billion, while car loadings increased 5 percent.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of C$1.03 a share on revenue of nearly C$2.3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

($1=$0.99 Canadian)

Reporting By Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Peter Galloway

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