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BNSF Q3 coal revenues, volumes decline on adverse weather conditions

Highlights

Railroad reported 482,000 coal carloads in Q3

Q3 coal RPU averages $2,066, down 3% on year

Houston — BNSF Railway reported a decrease in coal volumes and revenue in the third quarter of 2019, primarily because of adverse weather conditions and lower natural gas prices.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad reported Q3 coal volumes of 482,000 carloads, up from 440,000 carloads in the prior quarter, but below the 502,000 carloads reported in the year-ago quarter, according to its Q3 earnings report, filed Monday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

It was the lowest Q3 coal volumes in more than 10 years.

In the nine-month period 2019, coal volumes have totaled 1.34 million, down from 1.4 million in the same period a year ago.

Of the total 2.65 million carloads reported in Q3, coal volumes represented 18.2%, up from 17.1% in Q2, but down from 18.5% in the same quarter a year ago.

Q3 coal revenues totaled $996 million, up from $883 million in Q2 but down from $1.07 billion in the year-ago quarter. Total coal revenues through the nine-month period reached $2.75 billion, down from $2.93 billion the same period a year ago.

Coal's revenue per unit averaged $2,066/car in Q3, down 3% from $2,129/car in the year-ago quarter. But the latest quarterly RPU rose from $2,007/car averaged in the prior quarter.

From January through September, BNSF's coal RPU averaged $2,054/car, down 2% from an average of $2,090/car a year ago.

BNSF reported total operating Q3 revenues of $6.02 billion, down 2% year on year, while total RPU was at $2,159, up 1% from a year ago.

The railroad, which is privately held by investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway holding company, transports the most coal in the US, primarily from the Powder River Basin.

-- Tyler Godwin, tyler.godwin@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com