"The diversity of the business and efficiency of CP's network and team has the company well-positioned for the rest of the year," said CP chief executive Hunter Harrison.
"Amid persistent uncertainty in the pace of the North American economic recovery, CP continues to demonstrate the ability to recognize and capitalize on new business opportunities and operational efficiencies."
The company has a North American network of rail lines that transport a wide variety of freight from the resource and industrial sectors, including grain, fertilizer, crude oil and automotive products.
Canadian grain freight contributed $256 million of revenue in the quarter, up $35 million or 16 per cent from last year, while U.S. grain added a further $137 million of revenue, up $31 million or 29 per cent from last year.
Together, the two grain segments accounted for about 24 per cent of Canadian Pacific's total revenue in the first quarter.
Shipments of crude — a relatively small but high-profile part of Canadian Pacific's business — declined by six per cent to $98 million from $104 million in the first quarter of 2014.
CP's adjusted earnings were above analyst estimates of $2.17 per share while net income was below the estimate of $2.16 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin said the adjusted earnings didn't include a $27 million after-tax gain from the sale of a building property, which improved earnings by 16 cents per share.
"Overall, we consider this a solid result for CP," Spracklin wrote in a report on the earnings.
David Tyerman of CanaccordGenuity said that CP had also chosen to exclude a $55-million after-tax hit from foreign exchange fluctuations, or 34 cents per share.
He said Canadian Pacific's results were in line with Canaccord's expectations given those items, plus the relatively easy comparison with last year's first quarter when severe winter weather was a factor and the Canadian dollar was stronger.
The 2015 first-quarter results compared with $1.509 billion of revenue, $254 million of net income and adjusted earnings of $1.42 per diluted share for Canadian Pacific in the first quarter of 2014.
"We continue to rate CP 'hold' as we believe much of the company's strong outlook is already discounted into CP's current share price," Tyerman wrote.
Canadian Pacific shares were down $1.97 or about one per cent at $235.29 at midmorning on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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