BNSF 1Q Net Jumps 73 Percent

BNSF 1Q Net Jumps 73 Percent

BNSF Railway saw its profit surge 73 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to $506 million, as revenue grew 13 percent to $3.864 billion.

The rail firm, second largest in North America after western-U.S. rival Union Pacific Railroad, is a unit of investment firm Berkshire Hathaway.

BNSF listed its financial and some operating data in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It broke the financial report into periods before and after it became part of Berkshire in February.

The quarter’s net income compared with $293 million in the 2009 period, a time when traffic was shrinking rapidly as the recession worsened before bottoming out last spring. The latest profit was 13.09 percent of revenue, up from a margin of 8.56 percent a year earlier.

BNSF no longer gives detailed reports on its quarterly freight operations, as it did when it was a publicly traded firm and hosted earnings conference calls with analysts.

In the SEC filing it said overall freight traffic in this year’s January-March period slid 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.099 million units, but average revenue per unit in mid-February through March was up 15 percent from the 2009 quarter to nearly $1,800. Operating expenses rose 4.3 percent to $2.874 billion.

-- Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.