Tuesday, April 01, 2014

CSX 2013 Annual Report spotlights continued growth

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Michael Ward, CSX Michael Ward, CSX
“A combination of macro forces and strategic investments propelled CSX to strong performance despite the challenging external environment, including the slowly recovering economy and transformation in the energy markets. The company now enjoys the most diverse portfolio in its history, as growth in the merchandise and intermodal businesses help to offset declining coal revenue.”

That statement, taken from CSX’s 2013 annual report, is indicative of the company’s “actions to further capitalize on growth opportunities and meet strategic challenges.”

“CSX is in the midst of an exciting and transformative time, leveraging the most diverse portfolio in company history,” writes Chairman, President, and CEO Michael Ward in the Annual Report. “The CSX you see today has overcome a challenging macroeconomic environment while transforming itself to leverage the growth opportunities that exist in nearly all of its businesses. Today, CSX is a vibrant, healthy company that is meeting an essential need for the country and driving service excellence for our customers while investing in our infrastructure, employees, and the communities that we serve.”

“As the coal headwinds subside, investments in intermodal and other markets take hold, and operations build on past success to drive efficiency and improving returns, CSX expects to generate double-digit earnings per share growth for its shareholders on a sustainable basis,” says Ward. “In addition, the company continues to focus on achieving a mid-60s operating ratio long-term.”

Among CSX’s ongoing initiatives:

• Investing to support changes in energy markets, which are creating new opportunities for job growth, manufacturing resurgence and energy independence.

• Ongoing investment in doublestack intermodal capabilities through the National Gateway and new or expanded regional terminals.

• Continued pursuit of record customer satisfaction through improved communication and collaboration.

• Consistently strong safety performance, building on CSX's performance as the nation's safest Class I railroad in 2013, with the fewest accidents and injuries.

• Focus on improving the company's environmental footprint, increasing sustainable development activities and amplifying engagement with local communities.

“CSX continues to place a high priority on investing in critically needed transportation infrastructure while rewarding investors through dividends and share repurchases,” notes Ward. “In 2013, the company invested $2.3 billion in the network and will invest another $2.3 billion in 2014 to support long-term value creation for shareholders. The company is also focused on returning value to shareholders in the near term. In 2013, CSX paid dividends of 59 cents per share, up 9% from the year before, and announced a new $1 billion share buyback program.

“These value-creating activities build on a sustained track record of delivering shareholder returns. Over the past decade, CSX increased operating income by nearly 600% and improved operating ratio by more than 2,200 basis points, while driving growth in earnings per share from continuing operations of nearly 2,000%. As a result, CSX shareholders have seen a total return on their investment of nearly 500%, easily outpacing the broader market.”

Full text of the CSX 2013 Annual Report, including Ward’s letter to shareholders, can be found at http://investors.csx.com.