JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — CSX Corp. on Wednesday reported better-than-expected net income in the third quarter even as the railroad posted another double-digit decline in the volume of coal it hauled.
The Jacksonville, Florida-based freight railroad operator earned $455 million, or 48 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 23, down 10 percent from $507 million, or 52 cents per share, a year ago.
The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 45 cents per share.
CSX posted revenue of $2.71 billion in the period, down 8 percent year over year but exceeding Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.69 billion.
Volumes declined 8 percent overall, reflecting declines of 7 percent in chemicals, 8 percent in agricultural and food products and 21 percent in coal. That's an improvement from the 34 percent decline in coal volume during the second quarter.
Coal demand has plummeted over the past several years as the utilities that could switched fuels to natural gas take advantage of low gas prices or shut down coal plants ahead of new pollution regulations. Utility demand has largely stabilized, but now the export coal market is also weak.
Automotive volumes bucked the trend, growing 6 percent.
The company partially offset lower volumes with $112 million in efficiency gains and $53 million of volume-related cost reductions.
CSX operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces.
Shares of the company have risen 16 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased almost 5 percent. CSX shares closed Wednesday at $30.21, a climb of slightly more than 6 percent in the last 12 months. The stock added 2.5 percent in after-hours trading.
Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on CSX at http://www.zacks.com/ap/CSX
Keywords: CSX, Earnings Report, Priority Earnings