CSX Corp., the largest East Coast rail carrier, posted higher fourth-quarter profit than analysts estimated as container-car and merchandise shipments rose.
Net income in the period was $443 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with $457 million, or 43 cents, a year earlier, the Jacksonville, Florida-based company said in a statement today. That beat the average of 39 cents forecast by 27 analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
Growth in container shipments of consumer goods, spurred by a shift among shippers to rail delivery from trucks, is helping compensate for declines in coal and agricultural volumes. Intermodal cargo, which can be shipped by rail, sea or highway, climbed 2.8 percent at CSX, outpacing an advance of 2.7 percent for the largest North American rail carriers, according to Association of American Railroads data.
“Coal is a fairly significant headwind,” Logan Purk, a St. Louis-based analyst at Edward Jones & Co. who recommends buying CSX shares, said in a telephone interview. Intermodal traffic “is still doing well” and CSX will see “healthy growth in that market, especially as they continue to take share from trucks.”
CSX climbed 1.6 percent to $21.15 at 6:41 p.m., after the close of regular trading in New York. The shares had previously fallen 8.8 percent in the past 12 months.