Norfolk Southern Corp. has made great strides over its 30-year history, including its best-ever financial performance the past two years, yet the best is still to come, said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman at the Class I's annual shareholders meeting held yesterday in Williamsburg, Va.
"Our railroad is on track to continue to do great things as we continue emphasizing operating efficiency and productivity," said Moorman, according to a press release. "I'm excited and optimistic about our company's future."
Moorman noted that even with a downturn in coal traffic last year, NS registered its second-best annual revenue, operating income, net income and earnings per share, which were topped only by 2011 results.
"Even though it remains a wildcard, we are confident [coal] will stay an essential component of our business," he said. "We're optimistic that we are at or at least close to the bottom for much of our coal business, and that higher natural gas prices and more normal weather patterns will mean that our thermal coal volumes will strengthen in the next few quarters."
Moorman also cited the company's public-private partnership investments in strategic rail corridors that position intermodal business as a major competitive strength.
Overall, the railroad is operating at peak efficiency and productivity, and providing superior service, he said.
"Another thing in our favor, quite simply, is that our railroad is running exceptionally well, and in fact I often tell people that we are running better on a sustained basis than I have ever seen in my career," said Moorman. "We have set all-time highs for many of our service and operations metrics, [and] our investments in technology and infrastructure are paying off with timely, more efficiently routed trains."
The franchise is positioned for the future, with NS both "resilient and prepared" to accommodate business generated by an economy that's gradually improving — something borne out by the railroad's financial and operational results in the first quarter, he said.
"The marketing opportunities are out there for a company such as ours that looks ahead, prepares and acts," said Moorman. "Even a few years ears ago, who could have predicted that Norfolk Southern, or any railroad for that matter, would be moving crude oil and supporting the domestic natural gas industry? Today, these are important growth categories for us."
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