The following ratings changes were generated on Wednesday, Dec. 3.
We've downgraded Canadian National Railway (CNI) from buy to hold. Strengths include its impressive record of earnings-per-share growth, increase in net income and revenue growth. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a decline in price during the past year.
Canadian National Railway has improved earnings per share by 20.8% in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. During the past fiscal year, it increased its bottom line by earning $4.28 vs. $3.90 in the prior year. Net income growth of 13.8% from the same quarter one year ago has greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500 but is less than that of the road and rail industry average. The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.65, and is less than that of the industry average, implying a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. The quick ratio, however, which is currently 0.53, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
Canadian National Railway's gross profit margin of 45.2% is strong, though it has decreased from the same period last year. Net profit margin of 24.5% compares favorably with the industry average. Shares are off 33% on the yea, but that was actually not as bad as the broader market plunge during that same time frame. One factor that may have helped cushion the fall somewhat is the improvement in the company's earnings per share. In one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry, but due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
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