TORONTO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway , the country's largest rail operator, said on Tuesday it is targeting double-digit percentage growth of earnings per share in 2014, and expects capital spending to rise about 5 percent to C$2.1 billion ($1.98 billion) next year.
In a financial update, the Montreal-based company said the earnings increase will be above its expected adjusted EPS of C$3.05 to C$3.10 in 2013. CN earned C$2.81 a share in 2012.
Free cash flow excluding dividends should be between C$1.6 billion and C$1.7 billion next year.
The company, like the rest of the Canadian rail industry, has been under heavy scrutiny following a disastrous accident this summer when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the heart of Lac Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.
That accident happened on a competitor's line. CN has suffered a recent string of derailments and spills this year, none of which involved fatalities.
The company's shares, which have risen more than 30 percent this year due in part to strong oil shipments, fell 32 Canadian cents to C$59.55 before the after-market release of the update.
CN recently split its stock, and said in October it would spend up to C$1.4 billion to buy back 15 million of its shares.