NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 05/14/12 -- The Railroads Industry has flourished despite facing a significant drop in coal shipments. The S&P's Supercomposite Railroads Index has seen a 29 percent increase since September 2011, outperforming the S&P 500 Index's 21 percent gain. The Paragon Report examines investing opportunities in the Railroads Industry and provides equity research on CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) and Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE: NSC).
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"North American Class 1 Railroads reported a healthy 28.5% growth in earnings per share in (the first quarter) compared to the same period last year," BMO Capital Markets said in a recent report. "All the railroads exceeded consensus estimates by a healthy margin largely due to greater-than-expected productivity gains, robust pricing and less-than-feared decline in coal revenues."
The recent resurgence in U.S. auto sales has also provided a boost for railroad companies. Data from the Association of American Railroads shows shipments of vehicles and auto parts in the last week of March totaled 17,283 carloads, the highest total in nearly 4 years.
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CSX Corporation last month announced first quarter net earnings of $449 million, or $0.43 per share, versus $395 million, or $0.35 per share, in the same period last year. This represents a 23 percent year-over-year improvement in earnings per share. Revenue in the quarter improved 6 percent from the prior year to nearly $3 billion, driven by increased volume, pricing gains and fuel recovery.
For the first quarter of 2012, Norfolk Southern Corporation reported net income of $410 million, 26 percent higher than the $325 million for the first quarter of 2011. "I am pleased to report another record-breaking quarter for Norfolk Southern during which we achieved first-quarter highs in revenues, operating income, net income, and earnings per share," said CEO Wick Moorman. "The benefits of our steady focus on service and operating efficiency are reflected in our results, and we continue to position our franchise for sustained growth through strategic investments in infrastructure."
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