CSX Kicks Off Railroad Earnings with a Bang (CNI, CP, CSX, KSU, NSC, UNP)

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US railroads have suffered from the warm winter with falling volume on coal transportation, but rising prices for gasoline and diesel fuel have bumped up container (intermodal) traffic and taken much of the sting out of the shortfall in coal. CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX), the third largest US railroad, reported quarterly earnings last night and proved the point.

CSX reported revenues of $2.97 billion, better than the consensus estimate of $2.91 billion and up 5.7% compared with the same period a year ago. EPS came in at $0.43 compared with a consensus estimate of $0.38. Other US carriers Burlington Northern Santa Fe, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Corp., Canadian National Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CNI), Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CP), Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU), Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC), and Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE: UNP) are still to come. Here’s a look at what analysts expect.

Burlington Northern’s revenues and earnings are reported with Berkshire Hathaway’s later this quarter. Year-to-date, petroleum carloads are up 45% while coal loads are down -6%. Other gains are autos, up 13.6%, while intermodal traffic is up just 1.15%.

Canadian National Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CNI) is expected to post revenue of $2.27 billion and EPS of $1.02, an increase of 13% over the same period a year ago. The company reports earnings on April 23rd.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (NYSE: CP) is expected to post revenue of $1.32 billion and EPS of $0.78, a whopping 310% increase over a year ago. The company put out a preliminary estimate of EPS at CDN$0.83 earlier this month. Canadian Pacific reports earnings on Friday.

Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) is expected to post revenue of $543.24 million and EPS of $0.72, a 24% increase over the same period a year ago. The company reports earnings on April 24th.

Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC) is expected to post revenue of $2.75 billion and EPS of $1.12, an increase of 12% over last year. The company reports earnings on April 24th.

Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE: UNP) is expected to post revenue of $4.98 billion and EPS of $1.63, an increase of 26% over the same period a year ago. The company reports earnings tomorrow.

Expectations are for rail stocks are high and, based on the gain reported yesterday at CSX, it looks like those hopes are about to be realized.

Paul Ausick

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