Canadian National profit beats estimates on cost-saving moves

(Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co CNR.TO on Tuesday reported a quarterly profit that edged past analysts' estimates as its cost-cutting moves helped it weather lower shipment volumes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Trains are seen in the yard at the CN Rail Brampton Intermodal Terminal after Teamsters Canada union workers and Canadian National Railway Co. failed to resolve contract issues, in Brampton, Ontario, Canada November 19, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Canada’s largest railroad operator, which was betting on higher crude oil shipments due to congested pipelines earlier this year, saw its petroleum and chemical shipments slump 25% in the second quarter.

“We will be ready and prepared if there is a second (virus) wave”, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Jacques Ruest said on a call with analysts, adding the company will continue to increase capacity year-over-year.

The company’s operating expenses fell 15% from a year earlier, excluding certain items.

Canadian National reaffirmed its C$2.9 billion capital investment plan for 2020 and said it would acquire about 1,500 covered hopper cars to expand its grain export business for delivery starting next year.

The company’s adjusted operating ratio, a key metric for the Wall Street, rose to 60.4% from 57.5%.

Canadian National’s net income fell to C$545 million ($405.14 million) or 77 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter, from C$1.36 billion, or C$1.88 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned C$1.28 per share, beating analysts’ estimate of C$1.26, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue declined nearly 19% to C$3.21 billion, and was below expectations of C$3.25 billion.

($1 = 1.3452 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.