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CN reports Q3-2017 net income of C$958 million, or C$1.27 per diluted share

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CN increasing capital investments to meet demand and future growth

MONTREAL, Oct. 24, 2017 /CNW/ - CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) today reported its financial and operating results for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2017.

Financial results highlights
Third quarter 2017 compared to third quarter 2016

  • Net income decreased by one per cent to C$958 million, while diluted EPS increased by two per cent to C$1.27.
  • Adjusted net income increased by two per cent to C$989 million, with adjusted diluted EPS increasing by five per cent to C$1.31. (1)
  • Operating income increased by four per cent to C$1,459 million.
  • Revenues increased by seven per cent to C$3,221 million.
  • Revenue ton-miles (RTMs) increased by 10 per cent and carloadings increased by 11 per cent.
  • Operating expenses increased by 10 per cent to C$1,762 million.
  • Operating ratio of 54.7 per cent, an increase of 1.4 points.
  • Free cash flow (1) for the first nine months of 2017 was C$2,321 million, compared with C$1,743 million for the year-earlier period.

Luc Jobin, president and chief executive officer, said: "CN delivered strong third-quarter financial results as we continued to see increased demand across key business segments such as frac sand, intermodal, coal and Canadian grain. I'm proud of what our team has accomplished given the strength and speed of the volume growth we've experienced this year.   

"To meet the needs of an expanding North American economy and new growth opportunities, we are increasing investments in our infrastructure and equipment by C$100 million, for a total capital program of C$2.7 billion in 2017. During the third quarter, and continuing through the rest of the year, we've been hiring across our network, particularly in Western Canada, as we remain focused on delivering superior service to our customers," Jobin continued.

"We are reaffirming our 2017 adjusted diluted EPS outlook of C$4.95 to C$5.10, compared to last year's adjusted diluted EPS (1) of C$4.59." (2)   

Foreign currency impact on results
Although CN reports its earnings in Canadian dollars, a large portion of its revenues and expenses is denominated in U.S. dollars. The fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar affects the conversion of the Company's U.S.-dollar-denominated revenues and expenses. On a constant currency basis, (1) CN's net income for the third quarter of 2017 would have been higher by C$22 million, or C$0.03 per diluted share. 

Third-quarter 2017 revenues, traffic volumes and expenses
Revenues for the third quarter of 2017 were C$3,221 million, an increase of seven per cent, when compared to the same period in 2016. Revenues increased for metals and minerals (31 per cent), coal (23 per cent), intermodal (12 per cent), automotive (four per cent) and other revenues (two per cent). Revenues declined for forest products (two per cent), and grain and fertilizers (one per cent), while petroleum and chemicals revenues remained essentially flat.

The increase in revenues was mainly attributable to higher volumes of traffic in overseas intermodal, frac sand, coal and petroleum coke exports, and Canadian grain; freight rate increases; and higher applicable fuel surcharge rates; partly offset by the negative translation impact of a stronger Canadian dollar.

Carloadings for the quarter increased by 11 per cent to 1,484 thousand.

RTMs, measuring the relative weight and distance of rail freight transported by CN, increased by 10 per cent from the year-earlier quarter. Rail freight revenue per RTM decreased by three per cent over the year-earlier period, mainly driven by an increase in the average length of haul and the negative translation impact of a stronger Canadian dollar; partly offset by freight rate increases and higher applicable fuel surcharge rates.

Operating expenses for the third quarter increased by 10 per cent to C$1,762 million, mainly due to higher costs from increased volumes and higher fuel prices, partly offset by the positive translation impact of a stronger Canadian dollar.

(1) Non-GAAP Measures
CN reports its financial results in accordance with United States generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). CN also uses non-GAAP measures in this news release that do not have any standardized meaning prescribed by GAAP, including adjusted performance measures, constant currency, and free cash flow. These non-GAAP measures may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. For further details of these non-GAAP measures, including a reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, refer to the attached supplementary schedule, Non-GAAP Measures.

CN's full-year adjusted EPS outlook (2) excludes the expected impact of certain income and expense items, as well as those items noted in the reconciliation tables provided in the attached supplementary schedule, Non-GAAP Measures. However, management cannot individually quantify on a forward-looking basis the impact of these items on its EPS because these items, which could be significant, are difficult to predict and may be highly variable. As a result, CN does not provide a corresponding GAAP measure for, or reconciliation to, its adjusted EPS outlook.

(2) Forward-Looking Statements 
Certain statements included in this news release constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and under Canadian securities laws. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. The Company cautions that its assumptions may not materialize and that current economic conditions render such assumptions, although reasonable at the time they were made, subject to greater uncertainty. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of terminology such as "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "assumes," "outlook," "plans," "targets," or other similar words.

2017 key assumptions
CN has made a number of economic and market assumptions in preparing its 2017 outlook. The Company assumes that North American industrial production for the year will increase by approximately two per cent, and assumes U.S. housing starts in the range of 1.25 million units and U.S. motor vehicle sales of approximately 17 million units. For the 2016/2017 crop year, the grain crops in both Canada and the United States were above their respective five-year averages. The Company assumes that the 2017/2018 grain crops in both Canada and the United States will be in line with their respective five-year averages. CN assumes total RTMs in 2017 will increase by approximately 10 per cent versus 2016. CN expects continued pricing improvement above inflation. CN assumes that in 2017 the value of the Canadian dollar in U.S. currency will be in the range of $0.75 to $0.80, and that the average price of crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) will be in the range of US$40 to US$50 per barrel. In 2017, CN now plans to invest approximately C$2.7 billion in its capital program, compared to its July 25, 2017 plan to invest approximately C$2.6 billion in its capital program, of which C$1.6 billion is still targeted toward track infrastructure.

Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results or performance of the Company to be materially different from the outlook or any future results or performance implied by such statements. Accordingly, readers are advised not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Important risk factors that could affect the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the effects of general economic and business conditions; industry competition; inflation, currency and interest rate fluctuations; changes in fuel prices; legislative and/or regulatory developments; compliance with environmental laws and regulations; actions by regulators; increases in maintenance and operating costs; security threats; reliance on technology; trade restrictions; transportation of hazardous materials; various events which could disrupt operations, including natural events such as severe weather, droughts, fires, floods and earthquakes; climate change; labor negotiations and disruptions; environmental claims; uncertainties of investigations, proceedings or other types of claims and litigation; risks and liabilities arising from derailments; timing and completion of capital programs; and other risks detailed from time to time in reports filed by CN with securities regulators in Canada and the United States. Reference should be made to Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) in CN's annual and interim reports, Annual Information Form and Form 40-F, filed with Canadian and U.S. securities regulators and available on CN's website, for a description of major risk factors.

Forward-looking statements reflect information as of the date on which they are made. CN assumes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect future events, changes in circumstances, or changes in beliefs, unless required by applicable securities laws. In the event CN does update any forward-looking statement, no inference should be made that CN will make additional updates with respect to that statement, related matters, or any other forward-looking statement.

This earnings news release, as well as additional information, including the Financial Statements, Notes thereto and MD&A, is contained in CN's Quarterly Review available on the Company's website at www.cn.ca/financial-results and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com as well as on EDGAR at www.sec.gov

CN is a true backbone of the economy whose team of approximately 23,000 railroaders transports more than C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network of approximately 20,000 route-miles spanning Canada and mid-America. CN – Canadian National Railway Company, along with its operating railway subsidiaries – serves the cities and ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. For more information about CN, visit the Company's website at www.cn.ca.

Selected Railroad Statistics - unaudited



Three months ended September 30


Nine months ended September 30


2017

2016


2017

2016

Financial measures






Key financial performance indicators (1)






Total revenues ($ millions)

3,221

3,014


9,756

8,820

Rail freight revenues ($ millions)

3,016

2,813


9,202

8,304

Operating income ($ millions)

1,459

1,407


4,257

3,917

Net income ($ millions)

958

972


2,873

2,622

Diluted earnings per share ($)

1.27

1.25


3.78

3.35

Adjusted diluted earnings per share ($) (2)

1.31

1.25


3.79

3.36

Free cash flow ($ millions) (2)

662

574


2,321

1,743

Gross property additions ($ millions)

724

890


1,795

2,029

Share repurchases ($ millions)

532

501


1,544

1,554

Dividends per share ($)

0.4125

0.3750


1.2375

1.1250

Financial position (1)






Total assets ($ millions)

37,104

37,068


37,104

37,068

Total liabilities ($ millions)

22,019

21,954


22,019

21,954

Shareholders' equity ($ millions)

15,085

15,114


15,085

15,114

Financial ratio






Operating ratio (%)

54.7

53.3


56.4

55.6

Operational measures (3)






Statistical operating data






Gross ton miles (GTMs) (millions)

118,171

105,535


351,601

309,002

Revenue ton miles (RTMs) (millions)

59,056

53,448


177,621

155,421

Carloads (thousands)

1,484

1,332


4,276

3,836

Route miles (includes Canada and the U.S.)

19,500

19,600


19,500

19,600

Employees (end of period)

23,428

22,166


23,428

22,166

Employees (average for the period)

23,183

22,134


22,812

22,353

Key operating measures






Rail freight revenue per RTM (cents)

5.11

5.26


5.18

5.34

Rail freight revenue per carload ($)

2,032

2,112


2,152

2,165

GTMs per average number of employees (thousands)

5,097

4,768


15,413

13,824

Operating expenses per GTM (cents)

1.49

1.52

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