Norfolk Souther Corporation (NYSE: NSC) and Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI) are both large-cap transportation companies, but which is the superior business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, dividends, earnings, valuation, institutional ownership, profitabiliy and analyst recommendations.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Norfolk Souther Corporation and Canadian National Railway’s gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Norfolk Souther Corporation $10.23 billion 3.23 $4.29 billion $6.16 18.61
Canadian National Railway $10.13 billion 5.88 $5.45 billion $3.84 20.66

Canadian National Railway has higher revenue, but lower earnings than Norfolk Souther Corporation. Norfolk Souther 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.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

70.2% of Norfolk Souther Corporation shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 55.1% of Canadian National Railway shares are held by institutional investors. 0.4% of Norfolk Souther Corporation shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 2.4% of Canadian National Railway shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

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

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Norfolk Souther Corporation 17.66% 14.45% 5.18%
Canadian National Railway 30.59% 25.42% 10.24%

Dividends

Norfolk Souther Corporation pays an annual dividend of $2.44 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.1%. Canadian National Railway pays an annual dividend of $1.22 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.5%. Norfolk Souther Corporation pays out 39.6% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Canadian National Railway pays out 31.8% 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. Norfolk Souther Corporation has raised its dividend for 7 consecutive years and Canadian National Railway has raised its dividend for 5 consecutive years. Norfolk Souther Corporation is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Risk and Volatility

Norfolk Souther Corporation has a beta of 1.33, suggesting that its share price is 33% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Canadian National Railway has a beta of 1.11, suggesting that its share price is 11% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent recommendations and price targets for Norfolk Souther Corporation and Canadian National Railway, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Norfolk Souther Corporation 3 15 6 0 2.13
Canadian National Railway 0 14 5 0 2.26

Norfolk Souther Corporation presently has a consensus price target of $108.07, indicating a potential downside of 5.71%. Canadian National Railway has a consensus price target of $81.36, indicating a potential upside of 2.57%. Given Canadian National Railway’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe Canadian National Railway is more favorable than Norfolk Souther Corporation.

Summary

Canadian National Railway beats Norfolk Souther Corporation on 10 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Norfolk Souther Corporation

Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated approximately 19,500 miles of road primarily in the East and Midwest. The Company is engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest. The Company, through interchange with rail carriers, to and from the rest of the United States. The Company also transports overseas freight through various Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. It provides logistics services and offers the intermodal network in the eastern half of the United States. The Company’s system reaches various manufacturing plants, electric generating facilities, mines, distribution centers and other businesses located in its service area. The Company’s intermodal market group consists of shipments moving in trailers, domestic and international containers, and RoadRailer equipment.

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.

Receive News & Ratings for Norfolk Souther Corporation Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Norfolk Souther Corporation and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.