Railway Stocks: CNR vs CP

CNR - Canadian National RailwayI am in the market for some railway and since I was going to research our two Canadian players (Canadian National Railway & Canadian Pacific Railway) I thought I’d make it a battle! Are you in the market for a railway stock in your portfolio? If you are, read on and find out about them.

Railroad Business

Railroads have been the foundation of long-distance transportation for a very long time and even now, it is still providing a consistent means of transportation for goods across North America. I like the business model and I really don’t see it go away anytime soon. It makes for a sustainable business and one that we must rely on and that’s why I want to have a railroad business in my portfolio. I started with utilities and Canadian banks for the reason that they are required and dependable and railroads fall into that model.

Even Warren Buffett has a strong appreciation for the railroad business. Just Google it and you’ll see numerous references. That alone shouldn’t be a reason to invest but a strong insight nonetheless coming from the ‘Oracle Of Omaha’.


It’s time for the numbers. Here is the quick comparison between the two companies. As you can see, it’s a win by knockout for Canadian National Railway. If you put aside all the news around the struggle within management and a large stock owner, the numbers alone are highlighting CNR as a healthier and more profitable company.

In CNR, we happen to have a candidate for the 10-10 rule. The 10/10 rule is about having a 10% dividend growth average over 10 years and CNR achieves just that. That 10% growth definitely beats inflation form an income perspective and when you re-invest your dividends, you have a really good compound growth rate.

The potential for business is much higher with CNR considering they server 75% of the US population whereas CP operates in 6 provinces and 13 states. Their railroad routes definitely highlight their potential for business growth and their size. I would say that CNR has an economic moat on the railway transportation sector across North America.

Stock Price$84.39$76.68
Market Capitalization37.0213.11CNR
Liabilities-to-Equity Ratio1.442.04CNR
Dividend Yield1.80%1.56%CNR
Dividend Payout Ratio23.85%34.72%CNR
10 Year Dividend Growth17.75%3.79%CNR
5 Year EPS Growth7.03%-5.32%CNR
52-Week Range98.52%92.16%
52-Week High$84.7$79.29
52-Week Low$63.72$46.01

Canadian National Railway

CNR Dividend Growth

Canadian National Railway TSE:CNRNYSE:CNI recently beat earnings and the stock price was rewarded from it as well. In the span of a week the stock is up already 6%. CNR has a consistent track record of growing its dividend annually making it a Canadian Dividend Aristocrat. With an average dividend growth over 10% annually, it also makes it a member of the 10-10 investing rule thus an excellent investment for dividend growth.

On the right, you can see its dividend growth graph for the past 10 years. The recession is practically missing. The consistent growth is what any investor is looking for and the only other company I have seen with such a graph in the Canadian market is Fortis TSE:FTS. From looking at the CNR dividend growth graph on their website, it appears that it even had a 20 year run with a 10% annual dividend hike. That’s some consistency I am willing to invest in.


Canadian Pacific Railway

CP Dividend GrowthCanadian Pacific TSE:CPNYSE:CP also beat the expectation but its current dispute between management and one of its major owner is stirring trouble. It makes for an uncertain path for many investors and it’s probably why the stock has stayed flat after the earnings.

The dividend growth graph is showing a few hiccups all within a 10 year period. In 2001, there was an anomaly and I could not find the reason for the higher payment either. It followed with a couple of flat years and it did the same during the 2008/2009 economic downturn. That’s a little too much struggle for me when I just look at the dividends – it lacks consistency.

DISCLOSURE: Please note that I may have a position in one or many of the holdings listed. For a complete list of my holdings, please see my Dividend Portfolio.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this blog post represents my opinion and not an advice/recommendation. I am not a financial adviser, I am not qualified to give financial advice. Before you buy any stocks/funds consult with a qualified financial planner. Make your investment decisions at your own risk – see my full disclaimer for more details.
Join 6,000+ Investors & Build a Winning Portfolio