Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) reported earnings on Jan. 22. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), Kansas City Southern met expectations on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue increased and GAAP earnings per share dropped.

Gross margins grew, operating margins expanded, net margins contracted.

Revenue details
Kansas City Southern booked revenue of $568.4 million. The 15 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ predicted sales of $565.5 million on the same basis. GAAP reported sales were 7.2% higher than the prior-year quarter's $530.3 million.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

EPS details
EPS came in at $0.92. The 23 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ forecast $0.82 per share. GAAP EPS of $0.83 for Q4 were 4.6% lower than the prior-year quarter's $0.87 per share.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Non-GAAP figures may vary to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 39.7%, 250 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 30.5%, 210 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 16.2%, 180 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $587.3 million. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $0.89.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $2.47 billion. The average EPS estimate is $4.07.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a four-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 437 members out of 450 rating the stock outperform, and 13 members rating it underperform. Among 120 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 119 give Kansas City Southern a green thumbs-up, and one give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on Kansas City Southern is hold, with an average price target of $86.28.

If you're interested in transportation companies like Kansas City Southern, then you should check out our special report that features 3 companies who depend on, and invest in, that industry. Learn the basic financial habits of millionaires next door and get these 3 focused stock ideas in our free report, "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." Click here for instant access to this free report.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.