Union Pacific’s First-Quarter Profit Creeps Up 1%

Railroad Limits Expenses
Union Pacific train
Union Pacific plans to restart its stock repurchases in the second quarter. (Ashley Landis, File/Associated Press)

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OMAHA, Neb. — Union Pacific’s first-quarter profit crept 1% higher as the railroad tightened up on expenses — particularly its fuel bill — even though it delivered slightly less freight.

The Omaha, Neb.-based railroad said April 25 it made $1.64 billion, or $2.69 per share. That’s higher than last year’s $1.63 billion, $2.67. Shipping volume was down 1% in the quarter.

The analysts surveyed by FactSet Research were expecting earnings of $2.51 per share.

“These results build on the momentum we established as we exited 2023 and provide further proof of what’s possible as we strive to be the best in safety, service and operational excellence,” CEO Jim Vena said.

The railroad’s revenue was hurt by a drop in fuel surcharge revenue as fuel prices fell. Union Pacific said it generated $6.03 billion in revenue, down slightly from last year’s $6.06 billion. But that was better than the $5.974 billion that analysts expected.

Union Pacific was able to hold down expenses 3% at $3.66 billion. That included a 14% drop in fuel expenses to $658 million in the quarter.

Union Pacific ranks No. 18 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest global freight companies.

The railroad said its quarterly results have it feeling more optimistic about profit growth this year even though it still expects volume growth to be muted after losing some international intermodal business and its expectation for lower coal shipments. So Union Pacific plans to restart its stock repurchases in the second quarter.

UP is one of the nation’s largest railroads with more than 30,000 miles of track crisscrossing 23 Western states.

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