Norfolk Southern's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Norfolk Southern (NSC)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 24, 2012 4:30 pm ET


Michael Hostutler -

Charles Wick Moorman - Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of Executive Committee

Donald W. Seale - Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President

Mark D. Manion - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

James A. Squires - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance


Christopher J. Ceraso - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Christian Wetherbee - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Justin B. Yagerman - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Edward M. Wolfe - Wolfe Trahan & Co.

Thomas R. Wadewitz - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Matthew Troy - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division

Walter Spracklin - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Jason H. Seidl - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC, Research Division

Brandon R. Oglenski - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Ken Hoexter - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

William J. Greene - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Anthony P. Gallo - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Scott H. Group - Wolfe Trahan & Co.

H. Peter Nesvold - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

David Vernon - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Salvatore Vitale - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., Research Division



Greetings, and welcome to the Norfolk Southern Corporation First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Michael Hostutler from Norfolk Southern, Director of Investor Relations. Thank you. You may now begin.

Michael Hostutler

Thank you, and good afternoon. Before we begin today's call, I would like to mention a few items. First, the slides of the presenters are available on our website at in the Investors section. Additionally, transcripts and MP3 downloads of today's call will be posted on our website for your convenience.

Please be advised that any forward-looking statements made during the course of the call represent our best good faith judgment as to what may occur in the future. Statements that are forward looking can be identified by the use of words such as believe, expect, anticipate and to project. Our actual results may differ materially from those projected, and will be subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, some of which may be outside of our control. Please refer to our annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC for discussions of those risks and uncertainties we view as most important. Additionally, keep in mind that all references to reported results, excluding certain adjustments, that is non-GAAP numbers, have been reconciled on our website at in the Investors section.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce Norfolk Southern Chairman, President and CEO, Wick Moorman.

Charles Wick Moorman

Thank you, Michael, and good afternoon, everyone. It's my pleasure to welcome you to our first quarter 2012 earnings conference call. With me today are several members of our senior team including Don Seale, our Chief Marketing Officer; Mark Manion, our Chief Operating Officer; and Jim Squires, our Chief Financial Officer, all of whom you will hear from this afternoon.

I am very pleased to report that Norfolk Southern had an excellent first quarter, setting records in most financial and operating metrics. Our results included across the board all-time first quarter highs for revenues, income from railway operations, net income and earnings per share. And the operating ratio of 73.3% equaled our best-ever first quarter performance.

Beginning with the top line, revenues for the first quarter rose 6% to $2.8 billion. Volumes were up 1%, notwithstanding a 12% decline in Coal traffic. The overall volume increase was led by double-digit growth in Automotive, as well as Metals and Construction. Revenue per unit rose by an average of 5%.

On the expense side, a strong focus on efficiency, combined with mild weather, resulted in record income from railway operations of $745 million, which then translated into net income of $410 million and earnings per share of $1.23. These results enable the first quarter dividend increase of 9%, a first quarter record operating cash flow exceeding $1 billion and first quarter share repurchases of $400 million.

Stepping back a little, the real story for the quarter was how the diversity of our franchise, along with a network that is performing at a high service level, helped us to deliver these excellent results.

As always, Don will take you through all of the moving parts of our business. Mark will give you a look at our key operating metrics and the impact of our increased velocity and reduced terminal dwell times. And Jim will walk you through all of the numbers.

I'll return with some closing remarks before we take questions. But now, let me go ahead and turn it over to Don.

Donald W. Seale

Thank you, Wick, and good afternoon, everyone. During the first quarter, our broad portfolio of markets generated first quarter revenue of $2.8 billion, up $169 million or 6% versus first quarter 2011, despite a weaker Coal market. This included an all-time revenue record within Merchandise of $1.5 billion, up $177 million or 13% over last year. Intermodal revenues set a first quarter record of $527 million, up $42 million or 9% over 2011, while Coal revenue for the quarter was down 6%, primarily due to volume declines.

Overall, yield increased 5% and volume grew by 1% with 5% gains in both Intermodal and Merchandise, which more than offset a 12% decline in Coal shipments [ph] .

Of the $169 million in revenue growth during the quarter, more than 80% came as a result of higher revenue per unit including pricing gains and fuel surcharge revenue. Higher volume accounted for the remainder of the revenue increase.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on

If you liked this article you might like

There Is Good and a Lot of Bad in General Electric Earnings

There Is Good and a Lot of Bad in General Electric Earnings

Long Live the FAANNG Stocks: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Tuesday 12/19/17)

Long Live the FAANNG Stocks: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Tuesday 12/19/17)

Jim Cramer: Breakouts Are the New Normal for This Stock Market

Jim Cramer: Breakouts Are the New Normal for This Stock Market

Jim Cramer: Good Cyclical Stocks to Buy Are in Short Supply

Jim Cramer: Good Cyclical Stocks to Buy Are in Short Supply

Buy Union Pacific's Stock On News Legendary CSX CEO Is on Medical Leave

Buy Union Pacific's Stock On News Legendary CSX CEO Is on Medical Leave