By Micah Maidenberg
Union Pacific Corp. said it would continue cutting jobs as slower economic growth hampers demand for railroad shipments and as it works to boost productivity.
The railroad on Thursday said volumes fell on a year-over-year basis for the third consecutive quarter, declining 8% in the third quarter. The company reported weaker shipments for everything from grains to vehicles, which in aggregate offset stronger shipments for energy products and construction materials.
"We have to play the hand that we are dealt when it comes to volumes," finance chief Robert Knight said on a conference call.
Union Pacific has moved to cut costs and jobs amid as demand has fallen off. The company employed on average 36,659 employees as of the third quarter, down 13% compared with a year earlier.
The Omaha, Neb.-based company expects to continue shedding jobs as volumes drop and productivity improves. Workforce levels in the fourth quarter are expected to be down 15% compared with the year-earlier period, Mr. Knight said on the conference call. Executives didn't rule out further job cuts in 2020.
U.S. railroads offer a glimpse into the domestic economy, given the range of goods the companies move. Overall, rail companies hauled about 21.3 million carloads and intermodal units during the first 41 weeks of the year, down 4% compared with the comparable period in 2018, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Union Pacific reported a quarterly profit of $1.56 billion, or $2.22 a share, compared with $1.59 billion, or $2.15 a share, a year earlier.
Revenue fell 7% from the year earlier to $5.52 billion, less than the $5.67 billion forecast by Wall Street analysts.
Shares initially slipped Thursday morning before rising about 1%.
Write to Micah Maidenberg at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 17, 2019 11:31 ET (15:31 GMT)Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.