Union Pacific Railroad reported today that fourth-quarter 2019 net income fell to $1.4 billion, or $2.02 per diluted share, from $1.6 billion, or $2.12 per diluted share, in fourth-quarter 2018.
Operating revenue dipped 9 percent to $5.2 billion during the quarter compared to the same period a year ago. Fourth-quarter business volume — measured by total revenue carloads — decreased 11 percent.
Industrial volume was flat compared to the same period in 2018, while agricultural products, premium and energy shipments declined, UP officials said in a press release.
"Given the challenging volume environment, we leveraged strong productivity to deliver solid financial results including the third consecutive quarter with an operating ratio below 60 percent," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Fritz. "The work our employees are doing as part of Unified Plan 2020 has been transformational and key to providing a safe, reliable and consistent service product for our customers."
Also during the quarter:
• Freight revenue declined 10 percent, compared to fourth-quarter 2018, as core pricing gains and a positive business mix were offset by lower volumes and decreased fuel surcharge revenue.
• UP's 59.7 percent operating ratio represented a fourth quarter record and the third consecutive quarter below 60 percent, improving 1.9 points compared to fourth-quarter 2018.
• Quarterly freight car velocity was 220 daily miles per car, a 5 percent improvement from the previous year's quarter.
• Terminal dwell was 23.3 hours, a 13 percent improvement compared to a year earlier.
For full-year 2019, UP reported net income of $5.9 billion, or $8.38 per diluted share, which represents a 1 percent decrease and 6 percent increase, respectively, when compared with 2018's results.
Operating revenue in 2019 totaled $21.7 billion, down from $22.8 billion in 2018. However, operating income totaled $8.6 billion in 2019, which was flat compared to 2018.
In addition, UP reported that for full-year 2019 versus full-year 2018:
• Freight revenue totaled $20.2 billion, down 5 percent. Carloadings were down 6 percent, with growth in industrial volumes more than offset by fewer agricultural products, premium and energy shipments.
• The operating ratio improved 2.1 points to a best-ever 60.6 percent.
• Freight car velocity was 208 daily miles per car, a 6 percent improvement.
• Terminal dwell was 24.8 hours, a 17 percent improvement.
• The reportable personal injury rate of 0.90 incidents per 200,000 employee hours increased 11 percent.
"While we are pleased with our progress in providing a highly consistent, reliable and efficient service product for our customers, we must improve our safety results," Fritz said. "As always, we remain focused on growing the business and improving margins while driving shareholder returns."