OMAHA, Neb. -- CSX's third-quarter profit fell 14% but the railroad said it handled nearly as many shipments as last year, as volume recovered from the depths of the shutdowns earlier this year.
The Jacksonville, Florida-based railroad said Wednesday that it earned $736 million, or 96 cents per share, in the quarter. That's down from $856 million, or $1.08 per share, a year earlier.
The quarterly profit topped Wall Street expectations. The seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research predicted earnings per share of 93 cents on average.
But the freight railroad said revenue fell 11% to $2.65 billion in the quarter, which was below the $2.7 billion that analysts expected.
CSX also announced plans to spend $5 billion repurchasing its own shares. Its stock rose 4% in after-hours trading.
CSX said the total volume of carloads it delivered during the quarter was 3% below last year as strong growth in deliveries of shipping containers — known as intermodal shipments — nearly offset weakness in every other category of shipment. During the second quarter earlier this year volume was down 20% as many businesses were shut down.
“We were encouraged by the speed with which volumes recovered from the trough, particularly the strength in the intermodal market,” CSX CEO Jim Foote said. “Fourth-quarter volumes to date are up year-over-year and we all hope for continued positive economic momentum.”
CSX managed to cut its expenses 11% to $1.5 billion even as volume increased sharply during the third quarter. Edward Jones analyst Jeff Windau said its remarkable how well CSX has managed its costs.
“You have to be pretty impressed with the way they have been able to navigate the markets and how nimble they have been,” Windau said.
CSX operates more than 21,000 miles (34,000 kilometers) of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces.
Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on CSX at https://www.zacks.com/ap/CSX