Wednesday, January 27, 2010

After fourth-quarter decline, Norfolk Southern looks to growth

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For fourth-quarter 2009, Norfolk Southern today reported net income of $307 million,or $0.82 per diluted share (slightly below Wall Street’s estimate of $0.84), vs. $452 million, or $1.21 per diluted share, a 32% decline from the same quarter of 2008. Revenue fell 16% to $2.1 billion.

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NS’s fourth-quarter operating ratio was 73.9% compared with 67.5% in the same period last year. For the year, the operating ratio was 75.4% vs. 71.1% for 2008.

“We expect to build upon the sequential volume gains we experienced in the third and fourth quarters driven by anticipated improvement in economic conditions combined with project growth,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “We plan to invest about $1.4 billion, slightly higher than our 2009 capital spending, in our rail network in 2010, including leveraging technology to improve operational efficiency and service, and support the business growth we expect in future years.”

Fourth-quarter merchandise revenue was $1.1 billion, down 9% compared with fourth-quarter 2008. Coal revenue was $580 million, down 27%. Intermodal revenue was $407 million, off 15% from the prior-year period. For the full year, intermodal revenue was $1.5 billion, down 26% compared with 2008. Railway operating expenses were $1.6 billion for the quarter, 8% lower compared with fourth-quarter 2008.