Burlington Northern 3Q Earnings Beat Expectations

By Beacon Staff

NEW YORK (AP) – Railroad operator Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. said Tuesday its third-quarter earnings rose 8 percent, beating Wall Street expectations, as cost controls and agricultural growth offset high fuel costs and overall market softness.

Shares rose more than 4.5 percent, or $3.77, to $86.77.

The company, which is a major shipper of Montana grain, earned $530 million, or $1.48 per share, compared with $489 million, or $1.33 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue grew 3 percent to $4.07 billion, from $3.94 billion in the prior-year period.

Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.37 per share on revenue of $4.04 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

Agricultural volumes rose 10 percent to $682 million for the quarter, driven by demand for wheat, ethanol, fertilizer and bulk foods.

Burlington Northern said demand for petroleum products was offset by weakness in the housing market.

Consumer Products revenues slipped 3 percent to $1.46 billion.

Coal revenues rose by $101 million, or 14 percent, to $849 million, but coal unit volumes were virtually flat due to mine production issues, the company said.