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Union Pacific Remains BMO's Top Pick, Here's Why

Union Pacific Remains BMO's Top Pick, Here's Why

On Thursday, BMO Capital Markets hosted meetings with institutional investors and Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP)’s management – Robert Knight, Chief Financial Officer; Mary Jones, Vice President and Treasurer; Mike Staffenbeal, Assistant Vice President of Investor Relations.

Following these encounters, analysts Fadi Chamoun and Devin Dodge reiterated an Outperform rating and $127 price target on the stock.

The Pick

Union Pacific remains BMO’s top pick due to its robust network, organic growth potential, margin improvement opportunities and sturdy outlook for EPS growth and free cash flow, the report stated.

Shareholder distributions are expected to surge at a faster pace than earnings over the next several years “as the company utilizes a portion of its spare debt capacity,” the analysts added. In addition, they see the recent pullback in valuation providing attractive entry point for investors.

Related Link: Union Pacific Launches Social Media-Based High School Senior Photo Safety Campaign

From a near-term earnings standpoint, and compared to the earnings of $1.30 per share reported in the first quarter of 2015, “there are a number of moving variables with negative mix shifts and reduced benefit from fuel offset by slightly higher carloads q/q, expected gains from the sale of real estate and modest improvement in costs as resources are gradually re-aligned with demand,” the experts expounded.

Overall, they said, they feel good about their second quarter EPS estimate of $1.37. Going forward, they see the “demand environment in the merchandise (ex. energy) and intermodal segments” remaining strong, while their estimates are “handicapped sufficiently in coal and energy to limit additional EPS downside to less than 5 percent.”

The firm anticipates pricing will remain robust over the near-to-intermediate term and expects the company’s long-term trend of improving productivity and margins to resume later this year and into 2016 as the company seems on the right track to rebalancing resources with volumes.

Image Credit: Public Domain

Latest Ratings for UNP

Jul 2019UpgradesNeutralOverweight
Jul 2019MaintainsBuy
Jul 2019Initiates Coverage OnBuy

View More Analyst Ratings for UNP
View the Latest Analyst Ratings

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