Omaha, Nebraska – CSX railroad profit rose 9% in the fourth quarter even as it carried less freight as it received more fuel surcharges and higher freight rates.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad said Wednesday it earned $1.02 billion, or 49 cents a share, for the quarter. That was up from $934 million, or 42 cents a share, the year before.
The results beat Wall Street expectations as the railroad continued to improve its operations. Twenty-seven analysts surveyed by FactSet expected CSX earnings of 47 cents a share.
President and CEO Joe Hinrichs, who joined CSX last fall amid a tough contract battle with railroad unions, said the railroad “made a lot of progress this quarter, delivering strong earnings as our network performance continued to gain momentum. .”
Trains at CSX are running more smoothly now that the railroad has hired hundreds of extra workers over the past year to help handle freight. CSX said it had an average of 6,886 train attendants in the fourth quarter, up from 6,397 a year earlier. Nearly 800 conductors are being trained.
CSX said its revenue also rose 9 percent to $3.73 billion, in line with Wall Street expectations. Higher fuel surcharges and freight rates boosted revenue despite a 2% drop in volumes. The rail company said last month’s severe winter weather had had an impact on December sales.
The railroad said its expenses rose 10% to $2.27 billion, with fuel costs up 46%.
Hinrichs said that as rail services continue to improve, he expects freight volume growth this year to outpace gross domestic product, which is expected to expand by about 0.5 per cent this year.
CSX is one of the largest railroads in the United States, operating more than 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of track in 26 eastern states and two Canadian provinces.
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