JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) today announced first-quarter net earnings of $459 million, or $0.45 per share, versus $449 million, or $0.43 per share, in the same period last year. "CSX continues to create value by supporting its customers with high levels of service in an economy that is still gradually recovering," said Michael J. Ward, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "At the same time, we are prepared for the economy to accelerate and have great confidence in the long-term outlook for the business." Revenue in the quarter was nearly $3.0 billion, essentially flat from the year before, as gains in merchandise, intermodal and other revenue offset declines in the company's coal business. These revenues, combined with strength in operations, drove first-quarter operating income of $875 million, and an operating ratio of 70.4 percent. These results were achieved with industry-leading safety levels. In addition to its quarterly results, CSX announced that its Board of Directors has approved a 7 percent increase in the quarterly dividend on the company's common stock, and a new $1.0 billion share buyback program. "These actions reflect the strength of CSX's core earning power and its confidence in the future," said Ward. "They build upon the $2.3 billion of investment CSX is making this year to meet the nation's future transportation needs and drive long-term shareholder value." Since 2005, CSX has invested $14.2 billion in its business, increased its quarterly cash dividend 11 times representing a 29 percent compounded annual growth rate (including the dividend increase announced today), and repurchased $8.0 billion worth of shares. These actions reflect the company's ongoing commitment to deploy cash in a balanced framework to drive near- and long-term value. The new quarterly dividend of $0.15 is payable on June 14, 2013 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 31, 2013. The new share buyback program is authorized to begin immediately, and it is expected to be completed over the next 24 months. Under the buyback program, the company may purchase shares from time to time on the open market, through block trading or otherwise. The company expects to fund the repurchase program primarily through excess cash and free cash flow as the company continues to target an improving credit profile. Consistent with its current view of the economy, the changing coal market, and its proven ability to withstand a range of business conditions, CSX said that it now expects to achieve an operating ratio in the high 60s by 2015, while remaining focused on attaining a mid-60s operating ratio longer-term. At the same time, the company expects to produce average annual earnings-per-share growth of 10-15 percent through 2015 off of the 2013 base, which is expected to be flat to down from prior-year levels.