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RailAmerica drives up income, drives down operating ratio


Now that RailAmerica Inc. is a publicly traded company again, it’s back to reporting quarterly financial results. Yesterday, the short-line holding company reported third-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $3.5 million, or eight cents per diluted share, compared with $2 million, or five cents per diluted share, in third-quarter 2008.

Net income — which includes discontinued operations and a tax benefit of $5.4 million — increased 21 percent to $3.5 million and operating income rose 4 percent to $25.6 million. In addition, operating expenses fell 22 percent to $84.6 million and RailAmerica’s operating ratio improved 4.8 points to 76.7.

However, revenue decreased 17 percent to $110.1 million as freight revenue tumbled 24 percent while non-freight revenue rose 26 percent vs. third-quarter 2008. Carloads declined 23 percent to 208,271 units.

“With the completion of the initial public offering in October, we have a strong balance sheet with approximately $130 million in cash,” said RailAmerica President and Chief Executive Officer John Giles in a prepared statement. “We are well positioned to make strategic investments that will complement the opportunities we have to grow organically through freight and non-freight revenue growth, and further productivity gains.”

The company — which owns and operates 40 regionals and short lines in the United States and Canada — also reported October carloads, which dropped 19.9 percent to 70,159 units compared with October 2008’s total. In the second quarter, RailAmerica restructured a customer contract, resulting in carloads and revenue reported as non-freight vs. freight. Excluding the contract’s effects, October carloads declined 15 percent year over year, RailAmerica said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/12/2009