CSX Reports Slight Revenue Knock for Q4

Railroad Attributes Decline to Lower Earnings From Intermodal Storage Revenue, Reduced Fuel Surcharge and Other Factors
CSX train cars
Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX posted net earnings of $886 million for the three months ending Dec. 31. That compared with $1.02 billion during the same time the previous year. (Justin Merriman/Bloomberg News)

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CSX Corp. experienced a slight decrease in year-over-year revenue during the fourth quarter of 2023, the company reported Jan. 24.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad posted net earnings of $886 million, or 45 cents a diluted share, for the three months ending Dec. 31. That compared with $1.02 billion, or 49 cents, during the same time the previous year. Revenue decreased by 1% to $3.68 billion from $3.73 billion.

“Throughout 2023, our railroad demonstrated reliable, industry-leading network performance, and the ONE CSX team delivered consistent results through a dynamic economic environment by focusing on excellent customer service,” said Joe Hinrichs, president and CEO. “Our railroad is running well, we have the right team and resources in place, and we look forward to building on our positive momentum with profitable growth over this next year.”

CSX attributed the slight revenue decline to volume growth and favorable merchandise pricing being offset by lower intermodal storage revenue, reduced fuel surcharge, the effect of lower global benchmark coal prices and a decline in trucking revenue.

Joe Hinrichs


For the full year, CSX reported net earnings of $3.72 billion, or $1.85 a share, on revenue of $14.7 billion, compared with net earnings of $4.16 billion, or $1.95 a share, on revenue of $14.9 billion in 2022.

CSX noted in the report that train velocity improved by 5%, while dwell improved by 7% versus the prior-year quarter. Carload trip plan performance improved to 85% compared with 77% in the prior year, while intermodal trip plan performance improved to 95% from 93%. CSX said that it has seen an improvement in service metrics throughout 2023.

Susquehanna International Group continues to see CSX as the cleanest play on a U.S. rail recovery. The investment company also noted that its initial outlook for this year feels very much achievable, with no hockey-stick demand expectations — a sudden sharp increase after a period of relative dormancy — underpinning their low-to-mid-single-digit volume growth, a conservative take on yields and an incremental margin view that was competition-driven rather than market-driven.

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“Their callouts of 1Q headwinds got attention, but pre-earnings consensus feels achievable to us depending on weather,” Susquehanna analyst Bascome Majors said in a report. “Looking forward, we continue to see CSX as the cleanest mid-term investment to capitalize on a U.S. rail recovery, offering fewer lingering risks than [Norfolk Southern] (less than a year since East Palestine), lower expectations than [Union Pacific] (less than five months since Jim Vena took CEO reins), and still trading at the cheapest [price-earnings ratio] and [free cash flow] yield of the group.”