January 23, 2014 11:00 AM, EST
Union Pacific’s Profit Rises on Volume Growth
Jeff Smith/Bloomberg News

Union Pacific Corp. said it had the best fourth-quarter and full-year results in company history as volume grew for the first time in six quarters.

The freight railroad reported a net income of $1.2 billion, or $2.55 per share in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $1 billion, or $2.19 per share, in the same quarter in 2012.

“For the first time in six quarters, we reported overall volume growth, despite significantly weaker coal shipments.  It highlights the strength of our diverse franchise, the extensive network reach we have to various markets, and a strong grain harvest,” CEO Jack Koraleski said in a late Jan. 22 statement.  “Volume growth, combined with solid core pricing gains and our continued focus on safety, service and efficiency, generated a record fourth-quarter operating ratio of 65%.”

Freight revenue grew 7% in the fourth quarter on price gains and volume improvement, UP said. Almost all commodity groups grew in revenue, led by a 19% increase in agricultural freight. Coal fell 1% and intermodal freight was flat.

Profit in the full year was $4.4 billion, or $9.42 a share, compared with $3.9 billion, or $8.27, the previous year. Operating revenue increased to $21.96 billion, from $20.9 billion.