CN increases dividend, hints of more job cuts

Canadian National Railway re-ported solid fourth quarter returns last week and announced plans to increase quarterly shareholder dividends by 20 percent.

In the three-month period ending Dec. 31, 2015, the Montreal based railway company increased profits by 11 percent to $941 million.

Total revenues for the quarter were listed at $3.17 billion, down from $3.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014.

On a full year basis, the company reported revenues of $12.61 billion in 2015, up $12.13 billion a year earlier.

Net income for 2015 was $3.54 billion, or $4.44 per share, up from $3.17 billion, or $3.76 per share, the previous year.

“CN generated strong fourth quarter and full-year 2015 results despite the weak volume environment,” said CN president Claude Mongeau.

“Our solid performance is testament to the strength of CN’s franchise and diversified portfolio of businesses.”

The company also said it expects first quarter 2016 earnings to increase in the mid-single digit range, despite an uncertain economic environment and reduced demand for rail services, particularly from crude oil and iron ore customers.

“We are not counting on a re-bound in commodities,” said CN executive Jean-Jacques Ruest during a Jan. 27 call with investors.

Revenue derived from moving grain and fertilizer was listed at $2.9 billion in 2015, up from $2.75 billion the previous year.

Mongeau said the company is managing its resources in response to lower demand from rail shippers.

Company officials said more positions may be eliminated in 2016 if demand for rail service continues to weaken but did not give numbers. CN reduced its workforce last year by nine percent, or 2,300 people.

However, the company announ-ced it will increase its quarterly dividend to shareholders to 37.5 cents per share as of March, up from 31 cents previously.

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