OMAHA, Neb. — CSX railroad hauled in 9% more profit in the fourth quarter even though it carried less cargo because it received more money for fuel surcharges and higher shipping rates.
The Jacksonville, Florida-based railroad said Wednesday that it earned $1.02 billion, or 49 cents per share, in the quarter. That’s up from $934 million, or 42 cents per share, the year before.
The results topped Wall Street expectations as the railroad continued to improve its operations. The 27 analysts surveyed by FactSet expected CSX to report earnings of 47 cents per share.
President and CEO Joe Hinrichs, who joined CSX in the middle of last fall’s difficult contract fight with the rail unions, said the railroad “made great progress this quarter, delivering strong earnings as our network performance continued to gain momentum.”
CSX’s trains are running more smoothly now because the railroad has hired hundreds of additional employees over the past year to help handle the freight. CSX said it had 6,886 train crew employees on average in the fourth quarter, up from 6,397 a year earlier. Nearly 800 more conductors are in training.
CSX said its revenue also increased 9% to hit $3.73 billion, which was in line with Wall Street expectations. The increases in fuel surcharges and shipping rates drove revenue higher even though volume slipped 2%. The railroad said last month’s severe winter weather modestly hurt volume in December.
The railroad said its expenses jumped 10% to $2.27 billion with fuel costs increasing 46%.
Hinrichs said he expects volume to continue growing more than the gross domestic product that’s expected to be up about half a percent this year as the railroad’s service continues improving.
CSX is one of the nation’s largest railroads, and operates more than 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) of track in 26 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces.