CN reports positive Q4 and end-of-year earnings

By Freddie Pierce
North American cargo transporter rail company CN has reported positive financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2...

North American cargo transporter rail company CN has reported positive financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2012.

Transportation company CN have released positive earnings for the fourth quarter and the year of 2012, showing a ten percent increase in revenues over the past year.

During 2012 all business units registered gains within the company, which recorded a 15 percent rise in the petroleum and chemicals sector, coal sector, a 15 percent rise in metals and minerals, 11 percent rise in  intermodal  and automotive with forest products and grain and fertilisers rising by five and four percent respectively.

Key Points

  • Record fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 carloads, revenues and revenue ton-miles.
  • Fourth-quarter 2012 net income was C$610 million, or C$1.41 per diluted share, compared with net income of C$592 million or, C$1.32 per diluted share, for the year-earlier quarter. 
  • Q4-2012 diluted earnings per share (EPS) of C$1.41 increased eight per cent over year-earlier adjusted diluted EPS of C$1.30 (adjusted net income of C$581 million), which excluded an income tax recovery.
  • Full-year 2012 net income was C$2,680 million, or C$6.12 per diluted share, compared with net income of C$2,457 million, or C$5.41 per diluted share, for 2011.
  • Full-year 2012 adjusted diluted EPS increased 16 per cent to C$5.61, with adjusted 2012 net income of C$2,456 million versus adjusted net income of C$2,194 million in 2011. 
  • Q4-2012 operating income increased 10 per cent to C$922 million, while full-year 2012 operating income rose 12 per cent to C$3,685 million.
  • Fourth-quarter 2012 operating ratio improved by 1.1 points to 63.6 per cent; full-year 2012 operating ratio was 62.9 per cent, a 0.6-point improvement.
  • 2012 free cash flow totalled C$1,006 million, after voluntary pension plan contributions of C$700 million, compared with free cash flow of C$1,175 million for 2011. 


Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer, said: “CN's team of railroaders delivered impressive fourth-quarter results on the strength of a seven per cent increase in revenues, capping a very strong 2012 performance.

“Thanks to our supply chain collaboration focus and solid execution, CN's growth last year continued to outpace that of the overall economy, generating the highest volumes and earnings in Company history. 

“In 2012, we experienced strong growth in commodities related to oil and gas, particularly crude oil, and saw continued market share gains in overseas and domestic intermodal. CN also benefited from strong coal and petroleum coke exports, increased wheat and soybean exports, as well as higher lumber and


Fourth-quarter 2012 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses
Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2012 increased by seven per cent to C$2,534 million. Revenues increased for coal (15 per cent), petroleum and chemicals (13 per cent), grain and fertilizers (11 per cent), intermodal (seven per cent), and automotive (five per cent). Revenues declined for forest products (two per cent), and metals and minerals (one per cent).


  • Carloadings for the quarter rose three per cent to 1,270 thousand.
  • Revenue ton-miles, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by eight per cent over the year-earlier quarter.
  • Rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile, a measurement of yield defined as revenue earned on the movement of a ton of freight over one mile, declined by one per cent.
  • Total operating expenses increased by five per cent to C$1,612 million.


Full-year 2012 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses
2012 revenues increased 10 per cent to C$9,920 million, with all business units registering gains:

The rise in total revenues was largely attributable to higher freight volumes, due in part to growth in North American and Asian economies, and the Company's performance above market conditions in a number of segments, as well as increased volumes in the second quarter as a result of a labor disruption at a key competitor; freight rate increases; the impact of a higher fuel surcharge as a result of year-over-year increases in applicable fuel prices and higher volumes; and the positive translation impact of the weaker Canadian dollar on U.S. dollar-denominated revenues.


  • Carloadings for the year increased four per cent to 5,059 thousand.
  • Revenue ton-miles increased by seven per cent over 2011, while rail freight revenue per revenue ton-mile increased by three per cent.
  • Total operating expenses for 2012 increased by nine per cent to C$6,235 million, mainly due to higher labor and fringe benefits expense, increased purchased services and material expense, as well as increased fuel costs.

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