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Harrison

Coal boosts CSX revenue: Company increases dividend payments

By Mark Basch, Contributing Writer

CSX Corp. on Wednesday reported better-than-expected earnings in its first report since Hunter Harrison took over as CEO, but Harrison only ran the Jacksonville-based railroad for a short part of the quarter.

Adjusted first-quarter earnings of 51 cents a share were 14 cents higher than the first quarter of 2016 and 8 cents higher than the average analysts’ forecast, according to Yahoo Finance.

The company followed up its late Wednesday earnings report by announcing Thursday morning an increase in its quarterly cash dividend payments from 18 cents a share to 20 cents.

CSX also said it expects adjusted earnings per share to rise by about 25 percent this year.

Final results for the quarter fell to 39 cents a share after a $173 million restructuring charge as CSX cut 800 management-level jobs, including 500 in Jacksonville.

Those cuts came before Harrison, who has a reputation as a cost-cutter, joined the company last month.

CSX’s headcount was 25,820 in March, down 2,021 jobs from March 2016.

First-quarter earnings increased because of a 10 percent increase in revenue to $2.87 billion.

The revenue gains were led by a 31 percent jump in coal shipment revenue to $522 million.

CSX said domestic coal volume declined, but export coal shipments rose “as global supply levels and pricing conditions extended the strong demand environment for U.S. coal exports.”

Harrison will have more of an opportunity to impact results in the second quarter.

“As the business environment continues to improve and we implement precision scheduled railroading, CSX will realize these objectives while driving volume growth and achieving a new level of financial performance,” Harrison said in a news release.

Precision railroading is a system Harrison implemented at other major railroads that emphasizes more efficient scheduling and movement of freight.

mbasch@jaxdailyrecord.com

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