CSX Operating Income Up 8% in 2022

CSX said this week that for 2022, its operating income was $6 billion an increase of 8 percent compared with 2021,

This included $144 million in gains from what management described as “property sales recognized from the 2021 agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Full-year 2021 operating income included $349 million in gains from this same transaction, CSX said in a news release.

Net earnings for 2022 were $4.17 billion, or $1.95 per share, compared to $3.78 billion, or $1.68 per share, in 2021. Revenue reached $14.9 billion for 2022, increasing 19 percent compared with 2021.

The operating ratio was 59.5 percent while diluted earnings per share were $1.95, an increase of 16 percent from $1.68 for the full year 2021.

During the fourth quarter of 2022, CSX posted operating income of $1.46 billion compared to $1.37 billion in the same period of 2021.

Net earnings were $1.02 billion, or $0.49 per share, compared to $934 million, or $0.42 per share in the same period of 2021.

Other fourth quarter highlights included revenue of $3.73 billion, a 9 percent year-over-year, increase that officials said was driven by “higher fuel surcharge, pricing gains, and an increase in storage and other revenues.”

Severe winter weather in late December modestly reduced volumes and revenue for the quarter.

The diluted earnings per share of $0.49 increased 17 percent from $0.42 for the fourth quarter of 2021.

During an investors call on Wednesday, CSX executives said the strong fourth earnings occurred despite signs of an economic downtown.

CSX management expected to gain traffic volume this year thanks to ongoing service improvements.

CEO Joseph Hinrichs said service metrics continued to show improvement through the fourth quarter after starting a clear upward trend in the early fall.

“As we anticipated, our hiring successes have allowed us to deliver better customer service that will allow us to capture more business with more volume over time,” Hinrichs said.

He noted that this has meant on-time performance has reached pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. For the quarter, intermodal trip plan compliance was 94 percent, while merchandise traffic reached 77 percent, a 20-point improvement compared to the third quarter of 2022.

During the earnings call, CSX management said it was unable to meet shipper demand in 2022 due to service problems related to crew shortages.

CSX executives said merchandise and coal volume continues to grow, which they expect will enable the Jacksonville-based Class 1 railroad to achieve faster business growth than the economy this year.

Hinrichs said CSX is still not meeting the demand that it has to move carload freight.

However, intermodal traffic is expected to decline due to a decline in import activity as retailers work down high inventories they amassed earlier.

CSX management declined to release earnings projections for 2023, citing economic uncertainty. Management also declined to set an operating-ratio goal.

Chief Operating Officer Jamie Boychuk said operations should continue to improve as additional conductors complete training.

CSX is still hiring conductors due to attrition and a low retention rate for new conductors.

“We’re looking at continuing to build our numbers up so we can get to a point where we can cover vacation time and make sure that our employees get time off,” Boychuk said. Consequently, CSX management said it won’t furlough train crews if traffic volume slows.

CSX plans to $2.13 billion on capital projects this year, up from $1.79 billion in 2022.

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