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Rail News: Kansas City Southern

KCS: Record operating ratio highlights a mostly trying third quarter


Kansas City Southern today announced its third-quarter financial results bested second-quarter performance and included a record operating ratio. But on a year-over-year basis, most measures declined.

KCS reported third-quarter operating income of $220 million versus $229 million in the year-ago period; net income of $132 million, or $1.20 per diluted share, compared with last year's $138 million, or $1.25 per diluted share; revenue of $632 million versus $677.5 million a year earlier; and carloads totaling 583,400 compared with 595,400 in third-quarter 2014.

Excluding the impacts of foreign exchange rate fluctuations, adjusted diluted earnings per share totaled $1.21 versus $1.29, and excluding the estimated impacts of Mexican peso depreciation and lower U.S. fuel prices, revenue actually increased 1 percent. Agriculture/minerals revenue climbed 6 percent to $110.6 million and chemical/petroleum revenue rose 5 percent to $123 million, but energy revenue tumbled 19 percent to $73.7 million, automotive revenue fell 17 percent to $54.6 million, intermodal revenue slipped 11 percent to $95.2 million and industrial/consumer products revenue dipped 10 percent to $150.2 million.

However, operating expenses decreased 8 percent to $412 million — in part because fuel costs dropped 28 percent to $78.5 million — which helped KCS set a 3Q operating ratio record at 65.2. The Class I's ratio in third-quarter 2014 was 66.1.

In terms of 3Q service metrics, KCS reported notable drops in terminal dwell times and cars on line in the United States and Mexico, and significant velocity gains in both nations.

"[Our] third quarter financial and operational statistics point to meaningful sequential improvement from the second quarter," said KCS Chief Executive Officer David Starling in a press release. "There is no question that KCS has been confronted with some challenges in 2015. The resiliency of this company has been demonstrated by its ability to hit these challenges head-on and recover quickly while maintaining strong margins."

The Class I aims to finish the year with continued strong commercial and operational improvements, and to "ride this positive momentum into 2016," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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