Based on the aggregated intelligence of 115,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, railroad operator Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) has earned a coveted five-star ranking. Our data has shown that five-star stocks outperform the market by a significant margin; conversely, one-star stocks have woefully lagged the market average.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at Norfolk Southern's business, and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

Norfolk Southern facts

Headquarters (Founded)

Norfolk, Va. (1830)

Market Cap

$21.25 billion



TTM Revenue

$10.07 billion


CEO Charles Moorman (since 2005)

CFO James Squires (since 2007)

Return on Equity (average last two years)



Burlington Northern (NYSE:BNI),

Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU)

CAPS members bullish on NSC also bullish on

Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP),

General Electric (NYSE:GE)

CAPS members bearish on NSC also bearish on


General Motors (NYSE:GM)

Sources: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Motley Fool CAPS. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Over on CAPS, some 96% of the 197 All-Star members who have rated Norfolk Southern believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These All-Star bulls include sandvig and stanton17, both of whom are ranked in the top 10% of our community.

In August 2007, sandvig noted that Norfolk Southern generates "strong cash flow in what is supposed to be a weak economy. What will happen when things pick up? The economics of this industry look pretty good for the long haul."

A more recent pitch from stanton17 in August of this year shares that sentiment, quoting a recent report by Barron's to support the stock's bull case:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sees freight railroad use jumping 88% over the next 25 years.

"'All the evidence is there that the train is returning to a degree once never expected [and that] an economic and cultural tsunami is about to transform the United States,' says Harvard professor John Stilgoe, author of the recently published book Train Time. 'Change is everywhere along the railroads....Track is being expanded, modernized and relaid, and once-abandoned rail right-of-ways are being reclaimed. And what you are seeing now is only the beginning. The best is yet to come.'"

What do you think about Norfolk Southern, or any other stock for that matter? Make your voice heard on Motley Fool CAPS today. More than 115,000 investors are waiting to hear what you have to say. CAPS is 100% free, so simply click here to get started.

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Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy always gets a perfect score.