Union Pacific 3Q16 Earnings Call Notes

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Union Pacific’s (UNP) CEO Lance Fritz Q3 2016 Results

Remain cautious of auto sales sustaining these levels

“Turning to autos, light vehicle sales are forecasted to finish 2016 at $17.4 million, down less than 0.5% from the 2015 record rate of $17.5 million. Although we expect sales incentives, low gasoline prices and consumer preference will continue to drive demand. We remain cautious with respect to auto sales sustaining at these levels. A continued focus on over-the-road conversions will support auto parts growth.”

Some segments showing signs of life

“The macroeconomic environment still has its challenges and unstable global economy, the relatively strong U.S. dollar and continued soft demand for consumer goods. However, certain segments of the economy are showing signs of life. A recent rally in energy prices has crude oil over $50 a barrel and natural gas over $3 per million btu, which are both encouraging for our coal and shale-related businesses.”

Going to continue to push our pricing power

“Scott our philosophy is not changing and as a matter of fact, our top line this quarter reflects that it’s not changing. We are pursuing business in the marketplace that we can price for the value that we represent and that’s re-investable. And if we can’t find that we walk away from it. So nothing has changed about that philosophy.”

Port strike bigger than the Canal in terms of west to east coast traffic shift

“No, I think the Panama Canal story is what we’ve been saying for the last several years and certainly I think the last couple of quarters we’ve been mentioning that the amount of traffics hitting the West Coast versus the East Coast did – there was traffic that moved to the East Coast because of the strike and BCO’s trying to diversify their risk and not be dependent upon the West Coast. We did see that phenomena. We have seen some of that business start to come back, but it hasn’t all come back from before the strike. That has probably been a larger factor than any Canal opening factor. The fact that the BCOs are diversifying their flows and a lot of ways just to not have that risk.”

Eric Butler

Container ship companies face tough times

As you mentioned Cherilyn there is a significant volatility going on in the international container ship business. There have been three major mergers, one bankruptcy, there are a number of other entities that are in dire or questionable financial shape. One of the things that all of the container ship companies are looking at doing is finding ways to have match backs or exports from the U.S. to Asia.”

$3 natural gas is good for coal

“The below $2 natural gas prices has created a headwind for coal in the past. We’re excited or we think that with natural gas being above $3 now and even some of the futures market showing it in the mid-3s that that certainly will improve the competitive condition for coal, but that has clearly had an impact likewise.”