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Shares of Canadian National Railway soared almost $5 Wednesday after it reported better-than-expected profits and announced a dividend boost and stock split.

CN stock (TSX:CNR) was up $4.91 to close at $101.24 on the TSX, hitting a new 52-week high.

After the markets closed Tuesday, CN announced fourth-quarter profits of $430 million ($1.56 a share), up 14 per cent from last year's $376 million ($1.29 a share). That was 2 cents better than the consensus estimate from 10 analysts surveyed by Thomson One Analytics.

Operating income in the quarter rose 19 per cent to $720 million and revenues climbed 9 per cent to $1.89 billion.

"All the pieces came together – stronger pricing, gains from our acquisitions, and solid returns from good service, cost control and improved productivity," said CNR chief executive E. Hunter Harrison in a release.

In a separate announcement, CN also announced a 30 per cent increase in its quarterly dividend to 16.25 cents per share and said it would split its stock two-for-one at the end of February.

This would be the third stock split and the 10th dividend increase that Canada's largest railway has announced since 1995.