Genesee & Wyoming Inc.’s (GWR - Free Report) fourth-quarter earnings (excluding 6 cents from non-recurring items) of $1 per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 90 cents. The bottom line also improved 29.9% on a year-over-year basis. Results were aided by an impressive performance at the North American segment.
Operating revenues inched up 0.7% year over year to $575.6 million, which outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $569.9 million. Freight revenues accounting for bulk (69.7%) of the top line rose 2.3% to $401.22 million. Meanwhile, freight-related revenues contributing to 24.8% of the top line slid 2.2% to $142.55 million. The balance came from ‘other revenues’.
Genesee & Wyoming’s outperformance in the fourth quarter pleased investors. Evidently, shares of the company gained more than 2% at the close of business on Feb 6.
Total operating expenses (on a reported basis) rose 1% to $469.94 million, mainly due to higher labor-related costs. Operating income (on a reported basis) was down slightly to $105.65 million in the reported quarter. The metric, on an adjusted basis, increased 5.6% to $109.9 million.
During 2018, Genesee & Wyoming repurchased 6 million shares worth $460.1 million.
Geographically, operating revenues from North American operations increased 5.5% in the quarter under discussion. However, the same from the company’s Australian (51.1% owned) and U.K./European operations decreased 5.8% and 5.3%, respectively. Notably, North American, Australian and U.K./European operations represented 58.7%, 12.4% and 28.9% each of the total operating revenues in the quarter under review.
At the North American unit, adjusted operating ratio (operating expenses as a percentage of revenues) improved 280 basis points to 73.6% in the fourth quarter. Notably, lower the value of the metric, the better. At its Australian operations, the same deteriorated 490 basis points to 75.1%. Also, at the U.K./European operations, adjusted operating ratio decreased 160 basis points to 98.3%. On a consolidated basis, the metric stood at 80.9% compared with 81.8% a year ago.
The company expects earnings to grow in double digits during the current year. Earnings per share are envisioned in the range of $4.30-$4.50 in 2019. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the same stands at $4.52. Additionally, operating revenues are estimated to be $2.36 billion in the ongoing year. However, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the same is pegged higher at $2.46 billion. Operating ratio is forecast between 80% and 81% in 2019. Adjusted free cash flow is predicted to be $300 million. Meanwhile, tax rate is estimated to be 27% for the full year. Also, total capital expenditures in 2019 are projected to be $280 million compared with $251 million in 2018.
Operating revenues in the North American segment are anticipated in the band of $1,380-$1,400 billion. Meanwhile, the same for Australian and U.K./Europe operations are forecast to be within $285-$295 million and $670-$690 million, respectively.
Zacks Rank & Key Picks
Genesee & Wyoming carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the same space are CSX Corporation (CSX - Free Report) , Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP - Free Report) and Union Pacific Corporation (UNP - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Shares of CSX, Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific have rallied more than 34%, 16% and 28%, respectively, in a year.
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