Why Earnings Are Not the Only Thing Driving CSX Shares Higher

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When CSX Corp. (NASDAQ: CSX) reported its first-quarter financial late on Wednesday, the company said that it had $0.51 in EPS and $2.87 billion in revenue. That compared with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.43 in EPS and revenue of $2.76 billion. In the same period of last year, it posted EPS of $0.37 and $2.62 billion in revenue.

Apart from this, the company also announced that it will increase its quarterly dividend by 11% and introduce a new $1 billion share repurchase program. Adjusting for restructuring charges in 2017, these actions are expected to drive a full-year operating ratio, EPS growth of around 25% off the 2016 reported base, and free cash flow before dividends of around $1.5 billion.

In line with the company’s balanced approach in deploying capital, CSX now expects to invest $2.1 billion in 2017, including roughly $270 million for Positive Train Control. Of the 2017 investment, more than half will be used to sustain core infrastructure with the balance allocated to projects supporting profitable growth, efficiency initiatives and service improvements.

E. Hunter Harrison, president and chief executive, commented on joining the company:

I am pleased to join the CSX team and working together we are going to make this company the best North American railroad, capable of consistently meeting and exceeding the expectations of our customers and our shareholders. As the business environment continues to improve and we implement Precision Scheduled Railroading, CSX will realize these objectives while driving volume growth and achieving a new level of financial performance.

He also added:

Although we are just in the beginning phase of making changes to our network, we are off to a great start. These changes are critical to driving strong, sustainable service for our customers and superior value for our shareholders.

Shares were last seen Thursday up 6% at $49.88, with a consensus analyst price target of $52.58 and a 52-week trading range of $24.43 to $51.27.