Restructuring. It's the corporate buzzword of the '80s. If you're a chief executive officer of a diversified corporation and you're not continually thinking of ways to restructure your company and increase profitability, you probably aren't doing your job.
Drew Lewis is doing his job. The chairman, president and chief executive officer of Union Pacific Corp. told shareholders at the company's annual meeting in the Red Lion Hotel Friday that he is currently looking at restructuring Union Pacific. He thinks about it every day.What does that mean? Well, its clear, Lewis said, that Union Pacific is in the railroad and trucking business to stay: Recent acquisitions prove that. The question, then, lies in whether Union Pacific is in the real estate and energy businesses to stay. That, Lewis indicated, remains to be seen.
"We have to evaluate those and determine whether they are part of our long-term strategy. We are in a new business in real estate," he said, referring to subsidiary Union Pacific Realty,"and there's a real question as to whether we should be. As for energy subsidiary Union Pacific Resources, "We are looking at that very carefully. If we could sell UP Resources at a high price...that benefits shareholders, we would do that. We are looking at restructuring in the near future, but we won't do it unless it's right."
In Utah, Union Pacific Railroad has reduced the number of employees from the peak of 2,600 in the early '80s to 1,730 currently. UPRR Chairman Michael H. Walsh said that number will eventually be cut to 1,580. "That many should remain on over the long period," he said. "The key thing is we're getting the railroad growing again."
Lewis said total peak UP Corp. employment of 53,000 is now down to 30,000. "That's still 6,000 more than we need," Lewis said, "but we are partners with our union brethren. We have to drive the labor force down but not in a confrontational way."
Union Pacific Corp. has been incorporated in Utah since 1897 and has been holding its annual meeting here since then. It became a holding company in 1969, branching out into other areas from its key railroad business, including real estate, trucking, energy production and environmental cleanup services.
Later this year, said Lewis, we plan to give something back to the state of Utah when we donate our depot in downtown Salt Lake, which will be used as a museau to showcase work of Utah artists.
In other action at the annual meeting, five Union Pacific Corp. directors retired from the board, of whom only one will be replaced. The new board member is James D. Robinson III, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Co., New York. Robinson served as a Union Pacific director from 1974 to 1985.
The change in the board reduces the number of directors from 20 to 16.
Leaving the board were former UP Corp. chairman William S. Cook, Morris F. Miller, retired chairman, Omaha National Corp.; William D. Grant, chairman of Business Men's Assurance Co. of America of Kansas City, Mo.; Downing B. Jenks, retired chairman of the Missouri Pacific Corp.; and Minot K. Milliken, vice president of Milliken & Co. of New York, a textile manufacturing firm.
Cook, Grant, Jenks and Milliken retire under Union Pacific's corporate policy for retirement of directors. Grant, Jenks and Milliken were covered by a former policy calling for directors to retire at age 72. The policy also calls for officer-directors to retre at age 65, except former chief executive officers-such as Cook-who retire when their terms expire.
Turning to first quarter 1989 financial results, Lewis said UP Corp's income from continuing operations was up 6 percent over the same period last year, and that was "despite the fact our railroad had to cope with extremely difficult weather conditions in the Rocky Mountain region this past winter."
Net income increased by 4 percent in the first quarter. "A combination of improved pricing and continuing benefits from our program to achieve cost reduction and productivity gains made this result possible," said Lewis.
First quarter earnings per share were $1.22, compared with $1.14 from continuing operations in 1988. Earnings of $7 million (7 cents per share) in the first quarter of 1988 were reclassified as discontinued operations, reflecting Union Pacific's divestiture of its refining activities in the fourth quarter of 1988.