CSX Posts Record Earnings
CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX – $32.07), the nation’s third largest railroad, announced results for the second quarter of 2015, including net earnings of $553 million, or an all-time record $0.56 per share, an increase from $529 million, or $0.53 per share in the second quarter of 2014. At the same time, continued low fuel prices and savings from efficiency initiatives reduced expenses by 9%. As a result, CSX delivered record operating income of more than $1 billion for the quarter and a record-low operating ratio of 66.8%, a key measure for railroad performance. Revenue for the three months ended June 26 fell 6% to $3.06 billion from $3.24 billion, reflecting lower fuel recovery and a 1% drop in freight volume. Analysts had expected the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company to earn $0.53 cents a share on $3.12 billion in revenue. Looking ahead, CSX expects to deliver mid-to-high single digit earnings per share growth for 2015, although the upper end of that range has become more challenging given the current energy environment. With low natural gas prices and high inventory levels continuing to reduce utility coal demand, CSX now expects domestic coal volume to decline by about 10% for 2015 and the outlook for export coal volume remains at approximately 30 million tons for the year. The company also anticipates meaningful margin expansion as it progresses towards a full-year operating ratio in the mid-60s longer term, vs. 71.5% in 2014. The remainder of the year will continue to face headwinds and the rails are hoping for consumers of autos and other goods will pick up the slack from reductions in coal, oil and commodity shipments. Earnings for the full year can approach $2.05 per share and possibly $2.25 for 2016, which provides for a reasonable valuation at current levels. I will maintain my position in CSX for now.