CSX Hauling Fewer Commodities at Higher Prices -- Commodity Comment

CSX Corp. reported quarterly earnings for the first time with Jim Foote as chief executive officer after the unexpected death of Hunter Harrison. Investors have been looking for a sign that worst of the railroad's bumpy transformation plan is in the past. Here's what you need to know:

EARNINGS: CSX reporter higher-than-expected profit in its fourth quarter as its bottom line was boosted by a $3.6 billion benefit related to the recently passed tax legislation. Excluding that impact and other charges, the company reported earnings of 64 cents per share, ahead of the Thomson Reuters consensus of 56 cents per share.

REVENUE: Revenue fell more than expected to $2.86 billion from $3.04 billion in the prior year. The company attributed most of the decline to the quarter being one week shorter than the comparable quarter last year.

STOCK MOVES: Shares edged 0.5% higher to $58.41 post-market after falling 1.9% during Tuesday trading. The stock has risen 50% so far this year.

COST CUTS: Expenses fell 14% with less than half of the decline being attributed to the shorter quarter. During his nine months at the helm of the company, Mr. Harrison laid out plans to cut costs and boost profit at the railroad. CEO Jim Foote said the company was "building upon the scheduled railroading model" instituted by Mr. Harrison.

Write to Imani Moise at imani.moise@wsj.com

Commodities are getting more expensive to ship. CSX reported lower volumes across each of its reportable segments in the most recent quarter but the railroad is squeezing more revenue per unit from most categories. Coal volumes were down 5%, but revenue per unit rose 3%. Shipments of agricultural and food products which includes grain tumbled 14% while RPU rose 3%. The only segments to see declines in RPU were automotive and forest units. CSX, up 50% so far this year, falls 1.1% during post market trading.

(imani.moise@wsj.com; @moisenoise)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 16, 2018 16:57 ET (21:57 GMT)