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Union Pacific (UNP) Up 8.7% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Continue?

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It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Union Pacific (UNP - Free Report) . Shares have added about 8.7% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Union Pacific due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

Earnings Miss at Union Pacific in Q3

Union Pacific's earnings of $2.01 per share missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.03. Moreover, the bottom line declined 9.5% on a year-over-year basis.

Operating revenues of $4,919 million also missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4,983 million. Moreover, the top line declined 10.8% on a year-over-year basis due to sluggish freight revenues (down 11% to $4,596 million). Business volumes, measured by total revenue carloads, declined 4% year over year.

Operating income in the third quarter declined 9% year over year to $2,031 million. Operating expenses contracted 12% to $2,888 million. Meanwhile, operating ratio (operating expenses, as a percentage of revenues) improved to 58.7% from 59.5% in the year-ago quarter driven by lower fuel prices. Lower the value the better.

Moreover, the company’s third-quarter effective tax rate is flat at 23.1% with its year-ago quarter. Total capital expenses were$2,294 million in the third quarter.

Segmental Performance

Bulk freight revenues were $1,478 million, down 12% year over year. Revenue carloads too slid 9%. Moreover, average revenue per car fell 3% year over year.

Industrial freight revenues totaled $1,567 million, down 18% year over year. Also, revenue carloads fell 16% and average revenue per car fell 2% on a year-over-year basis.

Freight revenues in the Premium division were $1,551 million, down 1% year over year. Average revenue per car also declined 6%. However, revenue carloads rose 5% year over year.  

Meanwhile, other revenues slipped 13% to $323 million in the third quarter.

Liquidity

The company exited the September end quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $2,601 million compared with $831 million at the end of 2019. Debt (due after a year) amounted to $26,080 million at the end of the quarter from $23,943 million at 2019-end. Debt-to-EBITDA ratio (on an adjusted basis) deteriorated to 2.9 from 2.5 at 2019-end.


 

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed an upward trend in estimates revision.

VGM Scores

At this time, Union Pacific has a subpar Growth Score of D, though it is lagging a bit on the Momentum Score front with an F. However, the stock was allocated a grade of C on the value side, putting it in the middle 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of D. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. Notably, Union Pacific has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.


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