Inside Logistics

Union Pacific Q2 profit jumps 59 percent

Railroad hauled 22 percent more cargo than a year ago


July 23, 2021
by Josh Funk THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Union Pacific’s second-quarter profit jumped 59 percent as the railroad hauled 22 percent more cargo than a year ago when shipments fell to the lowest levels of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad said Thursday that it earned US$1.8 billion, or $2.72 per share during the quarter. That’s up from $1.13 billion, or $1.67 per share, a year ago.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.55 per share.

Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz said the railroad delivered strong results despite the ongoing congestion issues in West Coast ports and at the key rail hub of Chicago as demand for imported products surged.

The number of shipments Union Pacific handled during the quarter was up in every category of freight. A year ago, restrictions related to the pandemic caused more than a 20 percent drop in shipping volume across all major railroads.

Union Pacific said it now expects shipping volume to grow seven percent overall this year as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic. That’s up slightly from its previous prediction of six percent volume growth.

The railroad posted revenue of $5.5 billion in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.38 billion.

Union Pacific shares have increased slightly more than four percent since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 index has increased 16 percent. The stock has climbed 22 percent in the last 12 months. Its shares jumped nearly three percent in premarket trading Thursday.

Union Pacific is one of the largest railroads in the U.S., operating 52,000 kilometres of track in 23 Western states.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research.