NS Sets 4 Quarterly Financial Records

Norfolk Southern said on Wednesday that it set four quarterly financial records in the first quarter of 2018.

The records included a new first quarter high or low for earnings per share at $1.93, up 30 percent year over year; net income at $552 million, up 27 percent; income from operations at $835 million, up 10 percent; and the operating ratio at 69.3, down 1.3 points.

In a news release, NS said that a lower effective income tax rate helped boost net income.

Railway operating revenue rose 6 percent to $2.7 billion and volume increased 3 percent to 1.9 million units compared with first-quarter 2017 results. The operating ratio was 69.3 percent, also a first-quarter record.

Intermodal revenue jumped 19 percent to a record $678 million and volume rose 8 percent to 1 million units.

NS said its intermodal business benefited from tightening truck capacity, rising truck prices, ongoing e-commerce growth and increasing rail/intermodal rates.

Coal revenue increased 3 percent to $343 million, although volume declined 4 percent to 249,100 units, and merchandise revenue inched up 1 percent to $1.6 billion while volume in the sector decreased 2 percent to 606,100 units.

Railway operating expenses increased by 4 percent to $64 million year over year due to $1.9 billion as higher fuel prices and increased costs associated with lower network velocity were offset by efficiency gains.

Fuel costs jumped 25 percent to $266 million as the price for a gallon of diesel climbed 21 percent in the quarter.

“We are pleased with the continued improvement in our financial performance and the growth in our business,” said NS Chairman, President and CEO James Squires in a statement. “We are focused on improving service for our customers to position us for future growth and efficiency that will benefit both our customers and shareholders.”

Squires said the outlook for the remainder of 2018 is promising.

“We are increasing our expected annual share repurchases to $1.5 billion, confident that we will deliver strong financial performance,” Squires said.

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