CSX Begins Rail Earnings With a Beat

Rail operator CSX reports earnings that beat Street estimates in Tuesday's after-market session.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (

TheStreet

) --

CSX

(CSX) - Get Report

beat the Street in its first quarter earnings, with earnings per share of 78 cents, versus a Street EPS estimate of 69 cents. The CSX results were released shortly after the market close on Tuesday.

The CSX earnings improvement represented a 22% increase in earnings over the 64 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

CSX revenue in the first quarter of $2.5 billion -- an increase of 11% from the prior year -- was also ahead of a Street forecast of just under $2.4 billion.

Shares of CSX were up more than 1.3% in after market trading, some 30 minutes after the closing bell.

CSX earnings are the first in the rail sector, and serve as a read-through for other rail operators, as well as the rail sector's link to the economic recovery in the U.S.

There have been recent indications from the rail sector that optimism is rising with regards to the growth of rail traffic in the next 12 months, even as coal demand remains relatively weak.

The combination of higher revenues and productivity resulted in a record first-quarter operating ratio of 74.5% and record first-quarter operating income of $634 million.

Michael Ward, CEO of CSX, said in the earnings release, "these results will enable the company to continue investing in its business to support the nation's growing demand for freight transportation, while driving shareholder value."

Analyst have been

expecting rails like CSX to reinstate dividends or share repurchase programs as the recovery takes hold and rails rebound.

CSX noted in its earnings release that it will be investing $1.7 billion in 2010, but did not provide specific guidance on dividends or share repurchase plans.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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