The country's second-largest railroad said its third-quarter earnings dropped because people still weren't buying more goods in stores and industrial production continued to sputter.
But much lower costs for fuel and labor kept the results from being worse.
Burlington Northern Santa Feearned $488 million, or $1.42 per share, compared with $695 million, or $1.99 per share at the same point last year. The results were well above Wall Street's expectations.
Revenue slipped 27 percent to $3.6 billion. The Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad said shipments of retail and industrial goods fell the most.
Analysts who follow Burlington Northern expected the company to turn in a gain of $1.28 a share on sales of $3.63 billion, according to a consensus from Thomson Reuters.
Burlington Northern shares were down .29 percent in extended trading Thursday. They closed at $84.53 a share.
Burlington Northern's rival CSX reported quarterly earnings last week that topped Wall Street expectations.
The railroad earned 74 cents a share in its third quarter on sales of $2.3 billion, compared with 94 cents a share on sales of $2.96 billion in the same period last year.