Union Pacific Corp. today kicked off the quarterly and full-year 2011 reporting season for the publicly traded railroads and for the U.S. transport sector in general. And based on the numbers it reported, the Omaha, Neb.-based railroad has brought its "A" game.
UP shot the lights out in the fourth quarter, posting record quarterly results in operating revenue, up 16 percent year over year to $5.1 billion, and operating income, up 23 percent to $1.6 billion. The fourth-quarter results propelled UP to full-year records in operating revenue, up 15 percent to $19.6 billion, and operating income, also up 15 percent to $5.7 billion.
Jim Young, UP's chairman and CEO, said 2011 was "the most profitable year" in the company's nearly 150 years in business. The original Union Pacific was formed on July 1, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act.
UP said its fourth-quarter business volumes, as measured by total revenue carloads, grew 3 percent versus the 2010 period. Four of its six business groups—chemical, automotive, energy, and industrial products—reported strong volume increases. The company omitted the intermodal and agriculture groups from that list.
All of UP's six business groups reported freight revenue growth in the fourth quarter, as the company recouped the higher cost of diesel fuel through surcharges and its pricing held firm. Intermodal and agriculture reported the smallest revenue gains, up 13 percent and 2 percent, respectively, from the year-earlier period, UP said.
"Looking ahead, we expect continued slow but steady economic growth in 2012," Young said in a statement.