Norfolk Southern reported record profit for the first quarter, as the railroad’s pricing power on slim volume growth boosted earnings 26 percent year-over-year to $410 million.
The railroad’s revenue rose 6 percent year-over-year to a record $2.8 billion, as general merchandise business climbed 13 percent and intermodal revenue increased 9 percent. Coal revenue fell 6 percent year-over-year to $766 million.
“I am pleased to report another record-breaking quarter for Norfolk Southern during which we achieved first quarter highs in revenues, operating income, net income and earnings per share,” CEO Wick Moorman said in announcing the results. “The benefits of our steady focus on service and operating efficiency are reflected in our results, and we continue to position our franchise for sustained growth through strategic investments in infrastructure.”
A non-cash charge reduced profit $36 million last quarter. The average revenue per carload and intermodal unit rose 5.2 percent on 1.1 percent total volume growth. Revenue per intermodal unit increased 3.3 percent from the same period a year earlier, and intermodal volume ticked up 5.1 percent in the same period.
NS’s railway operating expenses rose 1 percent year-over-year to $2 billion on higher fuel prices, compensation cost and material expenses. The railroad’s operating ratio improved 5 percent to 73.3 percent compared to first quarter 2011.