Genesee & Wyoming (NYSE: GWR) delivered its fourth-quarter results before the market opened on Tuesday. The railroad operator wasn't able to deliver everything Wall Street was expecting; it missed estimates. However, the quarter was solid overall as the company continues to chug along.
Delivering the goods
For the quarter, Genesee & Wyoming delivered total operating revenue of $415.6 million, which is up $24 million, or 6%, from the same period last year. One of the driving forces behind the increased revenue was the addition of the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad, or RCP&E, which added $20.7 million to the top line. That boost helped to partially offset weakness from foreign currency depreciation, which cut $9.2 million from the total, as well as some of the weakness the company experienced in its Australian operations. Overall, however, revenue still came in about $2 million less than analysts were expecting.
Speaking of missing Wall Street's expectations, the company's earnings followed suit, as adjusted earnings of $1.12 per share came in $0.06 shy of what analysts expected to see. Still, adjusted earnings were up 19.1% over the prior year, driven largely by strong growth in North America. That segment's operating income surged 28% despite weaker-than-expected shipments of petroleum products that caused the unexpected plunge in the price of oil last quarter. The other weakness this past quarter was the aforementioned Australian segment, as operating income slipped 4% due to weaker iron ore and intermodal shipments.
Traffic was strong last quarter as carloads increased 8.1% to 510,141. However, about half of that increase was due to the addition of RCP&E, which, when excluded, brought adjusted carloads up 4.6%. The company saw strength in mineral and stone as well as coal and coke, while agricultural products and petroleum products were weaker. Much of this volume growth was due to the continued strengthening of the U.S. economy.
Genesee & Wyoming sees its strong results in North America continuing in 2015, which should drive results as that segment represents 80% of its revenue. Meanwhile, the company sees Australia, which represents the other 20% of its revenue, continuing to be a drag on its results as it will be affected by the closing of several iron ore mines in the country. Overall, however, the company expects to deliver mid-teens growth in pre-tax income with future upside potential coming from acquisition and investment opportunities that could come its way over the next year.
Genesee & Wyoming delivered solid, if unspectacular, results. While it missed expectations, the company still delivered solid growth due to the combination of increased carload volume on its tracks as wells as the additional haul from bringing a new railroad into its fold.
This combination of organic and acquired growth should continue in the year ahead as the company sees the strengthening of the U.S. economy driving its growth in 2015.
Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Genesee & Wyoming. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.