CSX Transportation’s net profit rose 42 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to $430 million, with a revenue gain of 21 percent to $2.82 billion, the railroad announced Monday.
Expenses grew just 13 percent, so the carrier’s operating ratio of expenses to receipts fell from 75 percent to 70 percent in the same period of 2009. The profit margin rose to 15.3 percent of sales in the latest quarter, from 13.1 percent in the final 2009 period.
CSX saw profit rise 37 percent to $1.56 billion during the full year, while revenue rose 18 percent to $10.6 billion.
The results, building on Union Pacific Railroad's earlier report of record returns, are part of what is shaping up as a banner year for the railroads, and the companies are signaling new investment to take advantage of the growing demand. CSX said it plans to increase its network capital spending to $2 billion this year from $1.8 billion in 2010.
CSX estimated its employee head count at 29,985 workers in December, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier. However, freight volume rose 13 percent in the quarter, so the carrier increased traffic faster than it added workers for a productivity bump. Average revenue per load increased 7 percent.
The 2009 period had 13 weeks and ended on Dec. 25, while this year’s quarter went through yearend and covered 14 weeks. CSX said that excluding the extra week, its revenue rose 14 percent in the latest quarter and volume rose 7 percent.
Intermodal traffic grew 11 percent on a comparable-quarter basis to 581,000 units. Its overall merchandise business of non-coal carloadings grew just 4 percent, but it generates much more revenue for the railroad. Coal volume rose 5 percent, spurred by both export demand and higher shipments to utilities.
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