News Column

CSX Says Strong Earnings Coming Down the Track

July 23, 2013

CSX executives say earnings will grow 10 to 15 percent in 2014 and 2015 as the economy improves and crude oil shipments grow.

Rail executives discussed their outlook Wednesday, one day after the company reported profit of $535 million, or 52 cents per share, on $3.07 billion in revenue for the second quarter. That's up from $512 million, or 49 cents per share, on $3.01 billion in revenue a year earlier.

Michael Ward, CSX chairman, said the company profited despite losing over half of its domestic coal business in recent years. Coal use declined because of relatively cheap natural gas prices. Environmental concerns also prompted a number of utilities to switch power plants to gas.

But it appears that coal demand is beginning to stabilize. CSX said domestic coal shipments increased 5 percent in the quarter, as natural gas prices rose, but coal exports fell 23 percent, particularly to Europe.

Ward said until investigators determine what caused the crash July 6 of an oil-laden train in Quebec, it won't be clear whether new regulations are needed.

CSX said train accidents cost it $16 million during the quarter, and two railroad employees lost their lives last week in accidents. Union Pacific Corp. will release its first-quarter results on Thursday, and Norfolk Southern Corp. will follow on Tuesday.

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Source: Copyright Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

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