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Rail News: CSX Transportation

CSX posts higher earnings, record-low operating ratio in Q3


Despite lower revenue, CSX posted a 3 percent increase in net earnings and a company record low operating ratio (OR) for third-quarter 2019 compared to the same period a year ago, the Class I reported yesterday.

Third-quarter revenue fell 5 percent to $2.98 billion, as merchandise revenue growth was more than offset by coal and intermodal declines. CSX decreased expenses by 8 percent year over year to $1.69 billion, driven by continued efficiency gains and volume-related savings, CSX officials said in a press release.

The Class I posted Q3 net earnings of $856 million, or $1.08 earnings per share (EPS), versus $894 million, or $1.05 per share, a year ago. The OR set a new company record of 56.8 percent, compared with 58.7 percent for Q3 2018.

Operating income remained flat at $1.29 billion.

“I am extremely proud of our dedicated team of CSX railroaders for once again setting new records for operating efficiency, customer service and safety this quarter,” President and Chief Executive Officer James Foote. “These results reflect our continued commitment toward being the best run railroad in North America and providing our customers with best-in-class service.”

CSX's Q3 EPS was slightly above expectations given the company's solid operational execution, said Benjamin Hartford, a senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., in an analyst report.

Third-quarter revenue was in line with the reduced estimates CSX issued after its second-quarter earnings report in July, Hartford added.

"CSX's progress over the nearly three years since this management team began implementing its [precision scheduled railroading]-based operating plan has been outstanding, supporting confidence in continued improvement in CSX's [return on investment] profile," he wrote.

CSX helped to improve its OR by continued reductions in staffing levels, despite continued volume declines, Hartford's report stated. Although U.S. freight-rail traffic has been in decline during 2019, CSX — helped in part by its earlier implementation of precision scheduled railroading — outperformed its U.S. Class I peers in terms of volume during the quarter, Hartford's report stated.

To learn more about how CSX is transforming its operations, read this cover story in Progressive Railroading's October issue.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/17/2019