MarketWatch is reporting Union Pacific blames rail-traffic slump for 26% profit dip

Union Pacific Corp. reported a 26% decline in third-quarter profit Thursday, citing a persistent slump in rail demand, particularly from the auto industry, in the face of the global recession.

The Omaha, Neb.-based railroad operator posted earnings of $517 million, or $1.02 a share, down from $703 million, or $1.38 a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue fell 25% to $3.47 billion from $4.63 billion, bogged down by a 30% decline in its auto-freight business and a 39% drop in industrial-products freight.

“As we enter the final quarter of 2009, business volumes seem to have stabilized, but at very low levels for Union Pacific,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Young, in a statement.

Weekly Railfax Report

Here is the Weekly Railfax Report data through October 17, 2009.

Total US Rail Traffic

Total Industry Charts US, Canada, and Mexico
year over year percent change – 13 week rolling averages

Union Pacific Rail Traffic

There are many additional charts in the Railfax Report. Most show an improvement in the third quarter although traffic is down considerably from a year ago. 3rd and 4th quarter GDP will likely be in the green, but maintaining that through 2010 with still rising unemployment will be a tough chore.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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