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Canadian National Railway's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Stocks in this article: CNI

In terms of earnings, and I'm looking at it here on an adjusted basis, we delivered $1.18, which is up 31% over last year. I'd be remiss if I didn't focus on the weather, obviously, the fact that we had one extra day also helped. There's perhaps 1/3 of that EPS growth on a year-over-year basis, which is due to those factors. But nevertheless, solid, solid first quarter result and Luc will give you all the details, including some of our monetization and how we are able to use and then deliver very strong free cash flow.

So solid results overall, I'll ask the team to give you the details and I'll wrap up at the end. Keith, over to you.

Keith E. Creel

Okay. Thanks for the comments, Claude. Let me say that while definitely a milder winter in 2011, 2012 first quarter was not without its operational challenges. But regardless, the tenacity and the execution of this operating team produced some pretty solid results.

Let's start with a view of the operating metrics that we report quarterly. We always provide a good overview of our productivity and the fluidity of our operation.

As you can see on the charts, we produced improvements across the board on all operating metrics. Due to a traffic mix change, our trainload was only up 1%. However, train length was up about 3% year-over-year. So regardless of the mix change, we continue to increase efficiency of our trains.

Of the other metrics, as you see here at least by -- up at least 3% relative to last year, which has allowed us to absorb our growth at a lower incremental cost. All a very solid performance of a talented and dedicated railroaders we have from this team.

Let's stay in the interest of providing a bit more relative first quarter comparison to proxy, let's compare our performance. In the first quarter of 2010, which is a winter similar to this year, we also showed improvements in all of our metrics. As you see, the only exception to this metrics are in train speed and locomotive productivity. These are 2 metrics which we have impacted consciously for their efforts to focus squarely on maximizing the throughput of our Bulk logistics supply chain. I'll give you a quick example. Of the sheer goal of pushing more coal to our supply chain, we're working with our supply-chain partners to forge to ensure that we consistently have a train ready to take advantage of our unload windows.

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