Signaling potentially good things for the larger economy, Eastern hauler CSX
The railroad operator unloaded a 48% surge in fourth-quarter earnings, delivering EPS of $1.14 that easily beat analysts' expectations for $1.09. It appears that the company's $1.5 billion share-repurchasing spree last year is paying off on a per-share basis. With so many companies recently diluting shareholders to tap capital when bank credit tightened, it's refreshing to see an outfit like CSX removing more than 5% of shares outstanding, especially during a year that also saw two dividend increases.
CSX's operating ratio crept upward sequentially, from 69.1% in the third quarter to 70% in the fourth. Still, the company targeted a "high-60s" performance for 2011 -- while reiterating its aim to achieve 65% by 2015.
When I examined western counterpart Union Pacific's
CSX's comparable coal volumes for all of 2010, meanwhile, equaled those from 2009. Even though eastern met-coal leaders like Alpha Natural Resources
With earnings results from leaders like Canadian National Railway