News & Reviews News Wire CSX earnings decline despite higher quarterly volume

CSX earnings decline despite higher quarterly volume

By Bill Stephens | April 17, 2024

Intermodal and coal traffic grew during the first quarter, while merchandise volume was flat

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Train on bridge along river
With the Bear Mountain Bridge in the background, a CSX Transportation international intermodal train heads for the Port of New York and New Jersey on the railroad’s River Subdivision on Oct. 14, 2021. Bill Stephens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — CSX reported weaker first-quarter profits today as revenue fell despite higher freight volumes.

“Working together, the ONE CSX team delivered a good start to the year that was in line with our expectations,” CEO Joe Hinrichs said in a statement. “We were pleased to see our consistent customer service performance lead to volume growth, and we remain focused on improving the reliability and fluidity of our network. Looking ahead, with favorable trends across many of the markets we serve, we are eager to build on our momentum over the rest of the year and beyond.”

CSX’s operating income declined 8%, to $1.35 billion, as revenue decreased 1%, to $3.68 billion. Earnings per share slumped 4%, to 46 cents.

CSX stopped reporting its operating ratio this quarter in favor of the operating margin, which was 36.8%. That’s 2.7 points lower than last year’s first quarter.

Overall volume was up 3%, with 7% growth in intermodal traffic and a 2% increase in coal volume. Merchandise business was flat despite 9% growth in automotive business and a 4% increase in chemicals traffic.

CSX said intermodal volume rose primarily due to international container traffic from East Coast ports. Domestic intermodal also grew for the quarter, however.

CSX expects industrial development projects to boost merchandise volume by about 1% this year, while improved service, new business wins, and share gains from truck all should contribute to carload growth, Chief Commercial Officer Kevin Boone said.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, which has closed much of the city’s port, will dent CSX’s revenue by as much as $30 million per month.

The railroad’s key operating metrics dipped slightly in the quarter, with average train speed declining 2% and terminal dwell increasing by 8%. On-time train departures dropped 11 points, to 75%, with on-time arrivals dropping 7 points to 70%.

Intermodal trip plan compliance was 94%, a two-point reduction from a year ago, while carload trip plan compliance was 82%, down from 86% a year ago.

The railroad’s personal injury rate increased 17%, while its train accident rate improved by 5%. CSX began a new risk identification and prevention training program on Jan. 1, with 4,800 train, yard, and engine crews completing the program so far this year.

The railroad aims to build a safety culture that emphasizes communication, immediate attention, and broad accountability for all safety issues, Chief Operating Officer Mike Cory said.

3 thoughts on “CSX earnings decline despite higher quarterly volume

  1. CSX management had better check their investors for a potential angry investment group like Ancora Holdings. Seems like the The Children’s Fund tried the same tact back in the day which hastened the retiring of Mike Ward and his replacement by Hunter Harrison and the implementation of PSR and the near implosion of CSX. As the battle cry of the US was, “Remember the (battleship) Maine,” during the Spanish American War, for railroads it should be, “Remember the Norfolk Southern.” A harbinger of things to come? I sure hope not!

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