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Rail News: Financials

NS sets high-water marks for annual and fourth-quarter revenue, income

In 2005, Norfolk Southern Corp. not only surpassed its two-year-old “7 + 7” goal of earning $7 billion in revenue and achieving an operating ratio in the 70s, it raised optimism the Thoroughbred might one day reach for a “9 + 6” brass ring — $9 billion in revenue and a 60ish ratio. The Class I’s annual operating revenue totaled a record $8.5 billion, a 17 percent increase, and operating ratio dropped to 75.2, a 1.5-point improvement compared with 2004.

In addition, NS set records for operating income at $2.1 billion, up 24 percent, and net income at $1.3 billion, up 39 percent compared with 2004.

“2005 was an extraordinary year for Norfolk Southern,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman — who will assume the chairmanship Feb. 1— in a prepared statement. “All our commodity groups set revenue records [and] we set new carloading records.”

However, annual operating expenses of $6.4 billion rose 14 percent compared with 2004 primarily because of higher compensation, insurance and fuel costs. Diesel expenses rose 60 percent — the average price per gallon rose from $0.91 in 2004 to $1.42 in 2005.

During the fourth quarter, NS set records for revenue at $2.3 billion, up 16 percent, and operating income at $594 million, up 29 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2004. Quarterly general merchandise and intermodal revenue reached all-time highs of $1.2 billion and $519 million, respectively.

In addition, NS’ quarterly net income of $362 million increased 37 percent and operating ratio of 73.7 improved 2.6 points compared with fourth-quarter 2004.

“Our operating ratio has been and will continue to be a primary goal for us,” said Moorman at the Class I’s analyst meeting held today.

Quarterly operating expenses of $1.7 billion rose 12 percent primarily because of fuel costs, which increased 64 percent. NS paid an average price per gallon of $1.76 compared with $1.07 in fourth-quarter 2004.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/25/2006