On Jan. 22, major railroad operator CSX (NYSE: CSX) released earnings for the fiscal year ended Dec. 28, 2007.

  • CSX loaded 3% fewer rail cars in 2007 than in 2006, but made up for that with an overall 11% price increase.
  • Notwithstanding 9% higher fuel costs (net of hedging maneuvers), CSX reported its best full-year operating ratio in a decade.
  • Have a look at the competitive context table below. Oh my gosh! It's full of stars! Our Motley Fool CAPS players say that railroads could make a great investment right now.

(Figures in millions, except per-share data)

Income Statement Highlights

FY 2007

FY 2006

Change

Sales

$10,030

$9,566

4.9%

Net Profit

$1,336

$1,310

2.0%

EPS

$2.99

$2.82

6.0%

Diluted Shares

448.3

465.9

(3.8%)

Get back to basics with the income statement.

Margin Checkup

FY 2007

FY 2006

Change*

Operating Margin

22.5%

22.4%

0.1

Net Margin

13.3%

13.7%

(0.4)

*Expressed in percentage points.

Margins are the earnings engine.

Balance Sheet Highlights

Assets

FY 2007

FY 2006

Change

Cash + ST Invest.

$714

$900

(20.7%)

Accounts Rec.

$1,174

$1,174

0%

Liabilities

FY 2007

FY 2006

Change

Accounts Payable

$976

$974

0.2%

Long-Term Debt

$6,470

$5,362

20.7%

The balance sheet reflects the company's health.

Cash Flow Highlights

FY 2007

FY 2006

Change

Cash From Ops.

$2,184

$2,058

6.1%

Capital Expenditures

$1,773

$1,639

8.2%

Free Cash Flow

$411

$419

(1.9%)

Free cash flow is a Fool's best friend.

Competitive Context

Market Cap*

Trailing P/E Ratio

CAPS Rating

Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP)

$29.1

16.2

****

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (NYSE: BNI)

$27.0

15.2

*****

Canadian National Railway (NYSE: CNI)

$21.4

12.6

*****

CSX

$18.2

14.4

****

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC)

$17.3

12.4

*****

* In billions.

Related Foolishness:

Fool by Numbers is designed to give you the raw earnings information in a timely fashion, putting all the numbers you need in one easy-to-read place. But at The Motley Fool, we believe numbers tell only part of the story, so check Fool.com for more of our in-depth discussion of what the numbers mean.

At the time of publication, Anders Bylund had no position in any company mentioned, but he did work for CSX once upon a time. Hi guys, how are you doing? Fool rules are here.