Comparing Canadian National Railway (CNI) & Union Pacific Corporation (UNP)

Canadian National Railway (NYSE: CNI) and Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE:UNP) are both large-cap transportation companies, but which is the better stock? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, profitability, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, dividends, valuation and earnings.

Insider and Institutional Ownership



53.4% of Canadian National Railway shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 79.8% of Union Pacific Corporation shares are held by institutional investors. 2.4% of Canadian National Railway shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.2% of Union Pacific Corporation shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Profitability

This table compares Canadian National Railway and Union Pacific Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Canadian National Railway 29.98% 25.57% 10.29%
Union Pacific Corporation 21.84% 23.35% 8.12%

Risk & Volatility

Canadian National Railway has a beta of 1.11, suggesting that its stock price is 11% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Union Pacific Corporation has a beta of 0.87, suggesting that its stock price is 13% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

Canadian National Railway pays an annual dividend of $1.32 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.7%. Union Pacific Corporation pays an annual dividend of $2.42 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.1%. Canadian National Railway pays out 33.8% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Union Pacific Corporation pays out 42.8% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. Canadian National Railway has increased its dividend for 5 consecutive years and Union Pacific Corporation has increased its dividend for 7 consecutive years. Union Pacific Corporation is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of recent recommendations for Canadian National Railway and Union Pacific Corporation, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Canadian National Railway 1 8 6 0 2.33
Union Pacific Corporation 2 13 4 0 2.11

Canadian National Railway presently has a consensus target price of $81.00, suggesting a potential upside of 1.54%. Union Pacific Corporation has a consensus target price of $117.41, suggesting a potential upside of 1.54%. Given Canadian National Railway’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, equities analysts plainly believe Canadian National Railway is more favorable than Union Pacific Corporation.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Canadian National Railway and Union Pacific Corporation’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Canadian National Railway $9.11 billion 6.53 $2.75 billion $3.90 20.45
Union Pacific Corporation $19.94 billion 4.56 $4.23 billion $5.66 20.43

Union Pacific Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Canadian National Railway. Union Pacific Corporation is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Canadian National Railway, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

Canadian National Railway beats Union Pacific Corporation on 11 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Canadian National Railway

Canadian National Railway Company is engaged in the rail and related transportation business. The Company’s network of approximately 20,000 route miles of track spans Canada and mid-America, connecting approximately three coasts, including the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico and serving the cities and ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert (British Columbia), Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile (Alabama), and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth (Minnesota)/Superior (Wisconsin), and Jackson (Mississippi), with connections to all points in North America. Its network and connections to all Class I railroads provide its customers access to the three North American Free Trade Agreement nations. It carries over 300 million tons of cargo, serving exporters, importers, retailers, farmers and manufacturers. Its freight includes seven commodity representing a portfolio of goods.

About Union Pacific Corporation

Union Pacific Corporation is a railroad operating company in the United States. The Company operates through its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad Company (UPRR). Its business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Coal, Industrial Products and Intermodal. Its freight traffic consists of bulk, manifest, and premium business. Bulk traffic primarily consists of coal, grain, soda ash, ethanol, rock and crude oil shipped in unit trains-trains transporting a single commodity from one origin to one destination. Manifest traffic includes individual carload or less than train-load business involving commodities, such as lumber, paper, food and chemicals. The transportation of finished vehicles, auto parts, intermodal containers and truck trailers are included as part of its premium business. As of December 31, 2016, its network included 32,070 route miles, linking Pacific Coast and Gulf Coast ports with the Midwest and Eastern United States gateways.

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