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CSX Corp. yesterday reported third-quarter 2020 net earnings declined 14% to $736 million, or 96 cents per share, compared with $856 million, or $1.08 per share, in the same period a year ago.
Revenue for the quarter fell 11% to $2.65 billion, as intermodal volume growth was more than offset by declines in coal and merchandise volumes, as well as lower fuel surcharge revenue.
Despite lower economic activity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, CSX's operating ratio of 56.9% remained in line with the prior year's record results, company officials said in a press release. A year ago, the Class I's OR was 56.8%.
Expenses fell 11% to $1.51 billion, driven by continued efficiency gains and volume-related reductions. Operating income for the quarter tumbled 11% to $1.14 billion compared with third-quarter 2019.
"I am incredibly proud of how CSX's exceptional team of railroaders continues to deliver against the challenges this year has presented," said President and Chief Executive Officer James Foote.
In a conference call with analysts, Foote noted how, during the second quarter, the railroad experienced its largest and most rapid sequential volume declines in CSX history.
During Q3, CSX was able to "efficiently absorb the record rebound in volumes, while maintaining high level of service," he said, according to a transcript of the call. CSX executives are encouraged by the speed at which volumes returned from the trough in Q2, particularly in the intermodal market, he said.
"Fourth-quarter volumes to date are up year over year and we all hope for continued positive economic momentum," Foote said.In addition, the company still expects capital expenditures to be at the low end of a $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion range.
Also yesterday, CSX announced its board authorized a new share repurchase program, providing $5 billion of incremental authority to the approximately $1.1 billion remaining under the existing share repurchase program.