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Rail News: Financials

Illinois tax law and rising crude-oil prices will drive down third-quarter earnings, NS says

Norfolk Southern Corp. doesn't report third-quarter financial results until Oct. 24, but the Class I today provided analysts an inkling of what to expect earnings-wise. The message: Lower your expectations.

Illinois tax legislation enacted in the third quarter and a negative impact from rising crude-oil prices on synthetic fuel-related investments will reduce quarterly earnings, NS said. The railroad projects diluted earnings per share of 97 cents, a 5 percent decrease compared with third-quarter 2006.

The Illinois law modifies the way transportation companies can apportion taxable income to the state, resulting in an adjustment to NS' deferred income taxes in the period. A non-cash charge will reduce third-quarter net income by about $19 million, the Class I said.

NS also expects synthetic fuel-related investments to provide less net benefit than previously reported in the second quarter because of escalating oil prices. The railroad estimates third-quarter net benefits will total about $7 million — $11 million less than previously projected.

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