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Union Pacific Stock Gains on Jim Vena Appointment as COO

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Shares of Union Pacific Corporation (UNP - Free Report) gained 6.2% in after-hours trading on Jan 7 following the decision of the railroad operator to appoint Jim Vena as its chief operating officer (COO). Jim Vena, who has been brought out of retirement by the company, will assume his new responsibilities from Jan 14.

The 60-year old Vena is highly experienced in the railroad space. Prior to his retirement in June 2016, he worked for four decades at the Montreal-based railroad Canadian National Railway Company (CNI - Free Report) .

Vena’s expertise can be gauged from the fact that during his term as Canadian National’s executive vice president and COO, the Canadian railroad excelled with respect to operating ratio (operating expenses as a percentage of revenues) and safety incident ratio. In fact, it was during Vena’s tenure that Canadian National achieved the best safety incident ratio in its history.

Union Pacific will be hoping that Vena replicates his above-mentioned success during his association with the Omaha, NE- based railroad as well. Vena, who will report to Union Pacific’s chairman, president and chief executive officer Lance Fritz, will oversee all aspects of his new company’s operations.

One of Vena’s main responsibilities will be to ensure that Union Pacific’s operating plan — Unified Plan 2020 — is a huge success. The plan, launched in October 2018, incorporates the Precision Scheduled Railroading principles.

The Precision Scheduled Railroading, which improves operational efficiency, reduces network complexity and also provides better reliability to customers, is also used by Union Pacific’s rival CSX Corporation (CSX - Free Report) .

The plan is anticipated to aid Union Pacific in achieving an operating ratio of 60% by 2020 and 55% in the long-term.

Zacks Rank & a Stock to Consider

Union Pacific currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in broader Transportation Sector is Spirit Airlines (SAVE - Free Report) , sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Shares of Spirit Airlines have surged 52.3% in the past six months.

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