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March 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- CSX is a better, faster and more capable company than it was even one year ago,
Michael Ward, the company's chairman, president and chief executive officer wrote to investors in the 2012 Annual Report delivered this week.
Last year the company successfully withstood a significant drop in its coal business by making quick adjustments in its operations and focusing on the mainstays of safety, service and productivity.
"Experience has shown that when CSX does those things well, we can turn good conditions into great results, or bad conditions into better results," Ward said, noting that employees led the major U.S. freight railroads in safety last year, drove customer satisfaction levels to all-time highs and delivered productivity savings of nearly
Looking forward, the company believes that its key businesses other than coal will outpace the slow, steady growth that is expected in the economy in 2013, Ward said, and there is little reason the economy cannot gain momentum if Congress is able to pass more meaningful legislation to improve the long-term fiscal outlook and restore confidence.
"Our customers across many industries believe that America is primed for real recovery, and so do we," Ward said.
He reiterated CSX's confidence in the long-term outlook for its industry, which is based on a number of important factors:
The inevitable movement of more freight as the population and its consumption rise;
The pressing need to deliver freight efficiently between ports and people as global trade continues to build;
The increasing congestion on the nation's highways, driving freight to rails;
The re-industrialization of America as the country's efficient labor force and relatively inexpensive energy combine to create cost advantages for local or regional U.S. producers and demand for exports;
The challenges associated with labor, fuel and other costs at trucking companies, which today are partnering with railroads for longer-haul movements; and
The nation's need for more environmentally friendly transportation solutions.
CSX's rail network connects some of the most active economic centers of the world with small farming towns and seaports alike. The company plans to invest in that network at a record
$2.3 billion level this year, on top of approximately
$8 billion invested in the past four years. Those investments are part of the company's balanced program of capital deployment overall, including dividends and share repurchases.
Ward concluded his letter by thanking shareholders for their partnership and belief in the company. "We hope that our quick response to the tough conditions in 2012, and the responsible actions of our 32,000 employees, gave you even more confidence in this team and the investments you have made in the company," he said.