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Canadian Pacific first-quarter revenue slips 4%

Year-over-year volumes flat despite gains for grain and domestic intermodal

A Canadian Pacific train. (Photo: Canadian Pacific)

Canadian Pacific’s (NYSE: CP) freight revenue for the first quarter of 2021 slipped 4% to CA$1.96 billion amid flat year-over-year volumes and a 2.5% decline in operating expenses.

One Canadian dollar equals 80 cents in U.S. currency.

Net income for the first quarter of 2021 jumped 47% year-over-year to CA$602 million, or CA$4.50 per diluted share, from CA$409 million, or CA$2.98 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2020. The difference in year-over-year net income reflects foreign exchange gains on debt and lease liabilities, and it includes CA$36 million in acquisition-related expenses related to its plans to acquire U.S. railroad Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU).

Operating expenses were CA$1.18 billion in the first quarter, down from CA$1.21 billion a year ago.

CP’s first-quarter operating ratio (OR) was 60.2% compared with 59.2% a year ago. Investors sometimes use OR to gauge the financial health of a company, with a lower OR implying improved health. 

CP’s adjusted OR, which accounts for the merger-related expenses, was 58.5%. CP said it experienced record tonnage, volumes and revenue in Canadian grain in the first quarter, as well as record revenue for its automotive segment and record revenue and volumes for domestic intermodal. 


“The strong demand environment, particularly across bulk, merchandise and domestic intermodal, coupled with our commitment to the foundations of precision scheduled railroading, enabled our success in the first quarter,” said CP President and CEO Keith Creel. “The CP family demonstrated resiliency through winter and delivered a record March. Our 12,000-strong team continues to deliver, no matter the obstacles, and I am extremely proud of their efforts.”

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.