Tony Hatch is an independent transportation analyst and consultant, and a program consultant for Progressive Railroading’s RailTrends® conference.
Last month, two western (well, west of the Mississippi) railroads reported above-consensus first-quarter earnings: Kansas City Southern, which grew year over year (YOY) by 18 percent (adjusted, versus Street estimates of around 10 percent); and Union Pacific Railroad, in its weather-dominated quarter, by 15 percent YOY (versus around 12 percent). KCS lowered its operating ratio by 160 basis points (bps) to (adjusted) 64.2, and UP lowered its OR by a point — having absorbed a 160bps weather impact — to 63.6. It was also noted that “at Union Pacific, we do not include real estate sales in our OR.” Zing! But more than the results — it was the differing tones and tenors of the earnings' webcasts that struck me.
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