CSX railroad's quarterly profit slips on weak coal demand

, The Associated Press

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Michael Ward
Michael Ward

Railroad operator CSX Corp. said continued weak coal demand contributed to a 3 percent decline in fourth-quarter net income. The results still beat Wall Street expectations as other sectors improved.

The Jacksonville-based railroad on Tuesday reported net income of $443 million, or 43 cents per share, in the last three months of 2012. That's down from $457 million, or 43 cents per share, in the previous year's quarter.

CSX said its revenue declined 2 percent to $2.9 billion from $2.95 billion a year earlier. It says declines in coal shipments more than offset gains in intermodal and merchandise shipments.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected CSX to report earnings of 39 cents per share on revenue of $2.84 billion.

CSX stock was trading up 1.6 percent, or 34 cents, at $21.15 in after-hours trading Tuesday after losing 10 cents in the regular trading session.

The weak coal demand that began with last year's mild winter and cheap natural gas prices continued to create challenges for CSX in the quarter.

Coal revenue fell 18 percent to $747 million in the fourth quarter. The increases in automotive, intermodal and crude oil shipments weren't quite enough to offset coal's decline.

CSX chairman, CEO and president Michael Ward praised the results.

"CSX continues to demonstrate the underlying strength of its business model, the ability to respond quickly to significant events in the marketplace, and a steadfast focus on creating substantial shareholder value over the long term," Ward said.

The other major freight railroad in the eastern United States, Norfolk Southern Corp., also reported dealing with coal challenges. Norfolk Southern said its fourth-quarter profit fell 14 percent to $413 million, or $1.30 per share, because its coal revenue dropped 23 percent. That's down from $480 million, or $1.42 per share, a year earlier.

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