[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]
CSX Corp. announced fourth-quarter and year-end earnings that beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations after the markets closed Jan. 20.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based Class I railroad’s revenue increased 21% to $3.42 billion compared with $2.82 billion a year ago. For the 12-month period, CSX generated $12.52 billion compared with $10.58 billion in 2020, an 18% year-over-year improvement.
Net income also soared 23% to $934 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with $760 million, 33 cents, a year ago. For all of 2021, CSX reported net income increased 36% to $1.17 billion, $1.68, compared with $862 million, $1.20, in 2020.
Zacks and other analysts forecast 41 cents per share.
The railroad’s operating ratio worsened to 60.1 from 57.0 a year ago. For all of 2021, the ratio improved to 55.3 from 58.8 in 2020.
Operating ratio measures a company’s expenses as a percentage of revenue and determines efficiency. The lower the ratio, the more ability the company has to make a profit.
In a statement with the financial report, and later on a conference call, CSX leadership acknowledged a higher than normal absentee rate in 2021. Mostly it was tied to COVID-19, which hampered operations, often on a daily basis.
“I would like to thank all of CSX’s employees for their hard work and dedication to our customers this quarter and for the entire year amidst the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and persistent global supply chain disruptions,” CEO James Foote said.
On the conference call, CSX said it has 500 people training for conductor positions at a company-run facility in Atlanta, and it continues to recruit for locomotive engineers and other employees systemwide.
CSX’s leadership is stressing the difficulty the railroad has had during the pandemic with absences and recruiting. However, the company’s total head count ended the year up 8.5%, to 20,919 from 19,282 in 2020.
Like many of its competitors during the onset of the pandemic, the railroad furloughed train crews because of reduced volume. Now, freight volumes are surging.
CSX said it expects volume to grow faster than the gross domestic product in 2022 with the number of shipments steadily improving throughout the year as the supply chain problems get resolved.
Host Seth Clevenger, fresh from CES, discusses autonomous and electric trucks with Joe Adams of Kenworth and Cheng Lu of TuSimple. Hear a snippet above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
“As we enter 2022, we remain committed to providing our customers high-quality service and creating additional capacity to help them address current supply chain challenges through the increased use of rail,” Foote said.
While overall revenue increased in the fourth quarter, CSX reported mixed results within its business lines.
• Chemical revenue dipped 4% to $163 million from $169 million. But on an annual basis, chemical shipment revenue increased 4% to $611 million from $586 million in 2020.
• Agriculture revenue remained flat year-over-year at $125 million. Annually, the number rose 6% to $399 million from $375 million.
• Mineral shipments notched up 4% to $81 million from $78 million. The sector showed an 11% year-over-year gain to $148 million from $133 million.
• Automotive shipments plunged 23% to $79 million from $103 million. For the year, the sector showed an 18% drop to $225 million from $275 million. Much of the decline was blamed on the ongoing shortage of computer chips, which continues to hamper domestic vehicle production.
Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing above or go here for more info
• Forest products showed a modest 6% increase to $73 million from $69 million. On an annual basis, the increase was 12%, to $234 million from $209 million.
• Metals and equipment products increased 3% to $68 million from $66 million. For all of 2021, the increase was 14% to $200 million from $175 million.
• Fertilizers declined 3% to $56 million from $58 million. For the 12 months, that sector showed an 8% increase, to $120 million from $111 million.
• Intermodal shipments recorded a less than 1% decline to $754 million from $757 million a year ago. For the year, the sector moved up 16%, to $551 million from $476 million.
• Coal shipment revenue declined by 2% to $171 million from $175 million. The sector showed 39% improvement for the year, to $523 million compared with $375 million in 2020.
CSX Corp. is one of the nation’s largest railroads, operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces. CSX ranks No. 18 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of global freight carriers in North America