OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The harsh winter didn't keep Union Pacific railroad from delivering 14 percent higher quarterly profit as it hauled more agricultural, industrial and coal shipments.
The Omaha, Neb., based railroad said Thursday that it generated $1.09 billion in net income, or $2.38 per share, in the first quarter. That's up from $957 million, or $2.03 per share, a year ago.
Union Pacific's revenue grew 7 percent to $5.64 billion.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Union Pacific to report earnings per share of $2.37 on $5.7 billion in revenue.
Union Pacific officials are optimistic about the year ahead. "There's still a lot of year ahead of us, but we are seeing signs of gradual economic improvement, and we're encouraged by the opportunities it presents," said Jack Koraleski, Union Pacific's chairman and CEO. The number of carloads railroads carry is considered an indicator of the health of the overall economy.
Weather will be a factor in Union Pacific's results. Agriculture shipments vary based on the size of the harvest. Utilities burn more coal during a hot summer to satisfy electricity demand for air conditioning. Higher demand for coal would boost coal shipments.
This winter's cold slowed railroad traffic nationwide, although Union Pacific appeared to handle the weather challenges better than eastern railroad CSX, which reported a 14 percent drop in quarterly profit earlier this week.
Koraleski said the results reflect the investments Union Pacific has made in its network, but the railroad was also fortunate that the worst of storms struck elsewhere.
"I think the investment in our infrastructure and the condition of our infrastructure paid huge dividends for us, and maybe we had a little luck as well," Koraleski said.