Canadian National Railway Company - President and CEO, JJ Ruest
President and CEO, JJ Ruest
Source: CN Rail
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  • Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) has delivered consistent results for the quarter ending March 31, 2020, despite earlier network disruptions
  • Total revenue for the quarter came to C$3.55 billion, almost exactly the same as the same period in 2019
  • This comes despite network blockages brought on by communities protesting the Coastal GasLink pipeline
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, the company is withdrawing its previously announced guidance for 2020
  • Canadian National Railway (CNR) is currently up 1.92 per cent to $116.10 per share, with a market cap of $82.6 billion

Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) has delivered consistent results for the quarter ending March 31, 2020, despite earlier network disruptions.

Total first quarter revenue came to C$3.55 billion, which is much the same as the company’s results for the same period in 2019. However, operating income increased 13 per cent to $1.22 billion, compared to $1.08 billion the year before.

The steady results come despite significant interruptions earlier in the year, when local communities established blockades in protest of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. As a result, Canadian National Railway’s eastern network was forced to temporarily shut down, much of which passes through indigenous lands.

The proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline stretches 670 kilometres across British Columbia, and is intended to ship natural gas from north-eastern parts of the province to the coast. Approximately 28 per cent of the $6 billion project passes through Wet’suwet’en lands, a community that has been leading the protests.

While Coastal GasLink says that deals have been made with 20 indigenous councils, Wet’suwet’en chiefs maintain that they are the ones who hold authority over traditional lands, not the community’s elected officials.

Local police enforced a court injunction in February, clearing the blockades and arresting several people in the process.

JJ Ruest, President and CEO of Canadian National Railway, said that the company demonstrated its ability to overcome difficult situations and its capacity to keep the economy moving.

“I am very proud of how we recovered quickly in March from the service disruptions in February.

“Our network is very fluid, and we are continuing the temporary right-sizing of our resources to match the weaker demand caused by the global recession,” he added.

Despite the company’s steady first quarter results, Canadian National Railway said that COVID-19 has affected overall demand for transportation services, which is “highly correlated with the duration of containment measures and the impacts on businesses and consumers.”

As such, it is withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance. While no indication has been given as to when a revised outlook might be issued, the company said it is committed to maintaining its previously announced 2020 dividend increase of seven per cent.

Canadian National Railway (CNR) is currently up 1.92 per cent to $116.10 per share at 3:16pm EST.

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