The Canadian Pacific (CP) railroad reported lower-than-expected third-quarter results late Wednesday and cut its full-year earnings forecast. The company said it now expects 2016 profit to grow in the mid-single digits, compared to the double-digit growth it had expected in June.
Should you be jumping off? Not yet.
As with industry leader Union Pacific (UNP - Get Report) , Canadian Pacific's business has suffered from a combination of lower crude oil volumes and transport delays in product shipments, including grains. Canadian Pacific's struggle to grow revenue and profits is more of an industry issue rather than its own.
For the quarter that ended in September, revenue declined 8.8% C$1.55 billion ($1.18 billion), missing analysts' estimates of C$1.61 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. Beyond the delayed grain harvest, revenue were hurt by weak coal demand. The company said Carloads (volume) declined 20% year over year, while revenue ton-miles were lower by 6%.
But thanks to a 6% reduction in operating expenses, driven by lower fuel costs, Canadian Pacific delivered a higher quarterly profit. Third-quarter earnings climbed 7.4% year over year to C$347 million, or C$2.34 per share, surpassing C$323 million, or C$2.04 per share earned a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, when taking out one-time gains and costs, Canadian Pacific earned approximately $2.09 per share. While that was below estimates of $2.12, the company's strict cost controls prevented a wider miss.
Canadian Pacific's American shares trade around $150. The stock has risen 1.5% forthe year to date, trailing the 5% rise in the S&P 500 (SPX) and the 7% rise in the Dow Jones Transportation Average.
The rail operators have been under selling pressure since peaking in fourth quarter of 2014. In the case of Canadian Pacific, which is projected to grow 2017 earnings at 15%, the stock still has a consensus buy rating and an average analyst 12-month price target of $163, implying 9% premiums from current levels.
So investors who are looking for a solid bounce-back candidate among transportation stocks can do well here. Assuming rail volumes improve in the next 12 to 18 months, the stock can reach $165 to $170, delivering 12% to 15% premiums.