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Norfolk Southern Surges Most Since 2011 as Profit Rises

Norfolk Southern Corp., the second-largest U.S. eastern railroad, rose the most in almost two years after posting third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates amid rising shipments of steel, fracking sand and farm products.

Net income jumped 20 percent to $482 million, or $1.53 a share, from $402 million, or $1.24 a year earlier, the Norfolk, Virginia-based company said today in a statement. That topped the average estimate of $1.39 from 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The increase in so-called merchandise shipping helped Norfolk Southern weather a drop in coal volumes, which have been under pressure as utilities switch to cheaper natural gas. Sand is used by oil and gas explorers for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tap deposits that were previously out of reach.

Norfolk Southern climbed 6.5 percent to $85.87 at 3:26 p.m. in New York, the biggest intraday jump since Oct. 27, 2011. Earlier the stock touched $86.58, the highest price in Bloomberg data going back to at least 1980. The shares had gained 30 percent this year through yesterday.

Sales climbed 4.9 percent to $2.8 billion, and shipment volumes increased 4 percent, Norfolk Southern said.

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