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Union Pacific predicts 25% drop in volume because of virus

Last Updated Apr 23, 2020 at 6:04 am PDT

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2019, file photo the logo for Union Pacific appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Union Pacific’s first-quarter profit improved 6%, but the railroad expects shipping volume to plummet 25% in the second quarter because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The railroad said Thursday, April 23, 2020, it earned $1.47 billion, or $2.15 per share, in the first quarter. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

OMAHA, Neb. — Union Pacific’s first-quarter profit improved 6%, but the railroad expects shipping volume to plummet 25% in the second quarter because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The railroad said Thursday it earned $1.47 billion, or $2.15 per share, in the first quarter. That’s up from $1.39 billion, or $1.93 per share, a year ago.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected earnings of $1.86 per share, on average.

The railroad’s revenue declined 3% to $5.23 billion. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.11 billion.

Union Pacific said the number of carloads of freight it delivered in the first quarter fell 7%, but the volume has declined sharply since then as automakers closed their plants and other manufacturers slowed production because of the virus outbreak.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 Western states.

Union Pacific Corp. shares have fallen 19% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 index has dropped 13%. The stock has decreased 17% in the last 12 months.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on UNP at https://www.zacks.com/ap/UNP

Josh Funk, The Associated Press