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Rail News Home CSX Transportation

10/19/2011



Rail News: CSX Transportation

CSX: 'Underlying fundamentals' drive strong financial results


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Despite a moderating economy in the third quarter, CSX Corp. registered strong financial results, especially top-line growth. That’s the message senior executives delivered this morning during a 3Q earnings webcast and teleconference.

Net earnings rose 12 percent to a record $464 million, earnings per share climbed 19 percent to 43 cents and operating income increased 6 percent to an all-time-high $878 million compared with third-quarter 2010.

The financial results, which met Wall Street projections, were driven by CSX’s “underlying fundamentals” and the “compelling value of rail transportation,” said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward. The Class I has a strong commitment to service and a track record of delivering strong financial results under an array of economic and market conditions, he said.

Third-quarter revenue rose 11 percent to $3 billion even though volume only inched up 1 percent to 1.6 million units. Revenue per unit (RPU) was key, increasing from $1,657 in the year-ago period to $1,830 as same-store sales pricing rose 7.1 percent year over year, said Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Clarence Gooden.

Coal revenue climbed 15 percent to $957 million even though volume dipped 1 percent to 386,000 units because RPU jumped 16 percent. Domestic demand was flat, but strong demand in Asia, Europe and South America drove export coal volumes, said Gooden. Intermodal revenue rose 16 percent to $369 million on flat volume of 576,000 units as RPU increased 15 percent. CSX registered record domestic intermodal volume because of truck capacity and highway conversions, said Gooden.

Meanwhile, merchandise revenue climbed 10 percent to $1.6 billion as volume rose 2 percent to 657,000 units and RPU increased 7 percent. Five of eight markets posted gains, led by metals, forest products and automotive business, said Gooden.

Although senior execs still expect the Class I to achieve a 65 operating ratio no later than 2015, the third-quarter ratio clocked in at 70.4, up 1.3 points compared with a then-record 69.1 ratio in third-quarter 2010. Soaring fuel costs — which jumped 48 percent to $412 million — added 110 basis points to the operating ratio, said EVP and Chief Financial Officer Oscar Munoz. The average fuel price per gallon climbed from $2.17 in the year-ago period to $3.13.

Overall, expenses increased 13 percent to $2.1 billion. Excluding fuel costs, expenses rose 7 percent, said Munoz. Labor and fringe costs rose 5 percent to $765 million in part because headcount increased 4 percent year over year to 31,664.

Looking ahead, specifically from 2011 through 2015, senior execs expect operating income and earnings per share to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent to 14 percent and 18 percent to 20 percent, respectively, said Munoz.

Jeff Stagl


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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