Norfolk Southern Corporation NSC delivered first-quarter 2019 earnings of $2.51 per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.17. The bottom line also surged 30.1% on a year-over-year basis. Results were aided by higher revenues and lower costs.
Railway operating revenues in the quarter under review came in at $2,840 million, higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,800.9 million. Moreover, the top line rose 4.5% year over year owing to an increase in revenue per unit and higher fuel surcharge revenue. Revenue per unit in the reported quarter benefited from increased rates. The outperformance pleased investors. As a result, the stock gained value in early trading.
Income from railway operations increased 16% year over year to $966 million. Operating expenses declined on a year-over-year basis to $1,874 million owing to lower fuel price and expenses related to compensation and benefits. Norfolk Southern’s operating ratio (operating expenses as a percentage of revenues) in the first quarter improved to 66% from 69.3% a year ago. Notably, lower the value of the metric the better.
Norfolk Southern Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Norfolk Southern Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | Norfolk Southern Corporation Quote
On a year-over-year basis, coal revenues came in at $435 million, flat year over year. Coal volumes declined 5%. Revenue per unit increased 6% in the reported quarter.
Merchandise revenues gained 5% year over year to $1,686 million with most sub-groups performing well. Merchandise volumes decreased 1%. Revenue per unit increased 6% for the segment.
Intermodal revenues rose 6% year over year to $719 million. Segmental volumes inched up 2%. Revenue per unit increased 4% for the segment.
This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company exited the first quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $411 million compared with $358 million at the end of 2018. The company had long-term debt of $10,569 million compared with $10,560 million as of Dec 31, 2018. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Investors interested in the Zacks Transportation sector are keenly awaiting first-quarter earnings reports from key players, such as SkyWest SKYW, United Parcel Service UPS and C.H. Robinson Worldwide CHRW. While SkyWest and UPS will report first-quarter earnings on Apr 25, C.H. Robinson will do so on Apr 30.
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