Freight railroad operator CSX Corp. said Monday that fourth-quarter profit rose 6 percent as higher rates offset a decline in the volume of goods it shipped.
The company also announced it had replaced its chief operating officer.
CSX shares fell in after-hours trading.
CSX said Chief Financial Officer Oscar Munoz would become chief operating officer, replacing David A. Brown, who is "no longer with the company." CSX said the change was unrelated to the company's business or financial performance.
Fredrik J. Eliasson, a 16-year CSX veteran, will take Munoz's spot as CFO. He was vice president of sales and marketing for CSX's chemicals and fertilizer business.
CSX net income in the quarter ended Dec. 30 rose to $457 million, or 43 cents per share, from $430 million, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts expected 44 cents per share, according to a survey by research firm FactSet.
The railroad shipped less coal, chemicals and agricultural products than it did a year ago. Overall volume was down 4 percent. CSX said it shipped less coal because utilities needed less of it to generate electricity. Some utilities are using more natural gas to run generators, because its price is close to a 10-year low.
CSX carried more cars and automotive components in the quarter, as North American production picked up from a year ago. Volume of some construction materials _ such as crushed stone and sand _ was also higher, helped by mild winter weather that extended the building season in many parts of the country.
Revenue per shipping unit jumped 9 percent _ led by double-digit increases for hauling coal and autos. That helped the company boost revenue to $2.95 billion, compared with $2.82 billion a year earlier. Analysts expected $2.99 billion.
Economists follow the performance of railroads as one indicator of the strength of the broader economy. That's because railroads haul a wide range of things, from consumer goods to cars and commodities like coal and grain.
The report wasn't as ringing as last week's numbers from bigger rival Union Pacific Corp., which said fourth-quarter net income jumped 24 percent. UP raised prices and hauled more freight during the quarter.
CSX officials planned to discuss the results in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday.
The shares fell 13 cents to close at $22.69 before the results were posted. In after-hours trading, they dropped 62 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $22.07.