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CSX Corp Q1 Earnings Meet, Sales Hit by Soft Coal Volumes

CSX Corporation CSX reported first-quarter 2016 earnings of 37 cents per share, which came in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Revenues of $2,618 million fell short of our estimate of $2,732 million and also declined 14% year over year owing to a substantial drop in coal volumes. First-quarter operating income fell 16% year over year to $704 million. Meanwhile, operating ratio (defined as operating expenses as a percentage of revenues) was 73.1% compared with 72.2% in the year-ago quarter. Operating expenses contracted 12% year over year to $1,914 million.

Segmental Performance

Merchandise revenues fell 4% year over year to $1,734 million in the quarter owing to a 3% volume contraction. This was largely a result of a 10% revenue decline at the Metals and Agricultural segments.

Coal revenues deteriorated 37% year over year to $399 million on a 31% reduction in volumes which was a result of soft global coal demand and declining fuel prices.

Intermodal revenues dropped 2% year over year to $405 million. On a year-over-year basis, volumes increased 4% while revenue per user declined 6%.

Other revenues grossed $80 million, down 52% year over year.

Liquidity

The company exited the first quarter of 2016 with cash and cash equivalents of $1,106 million compared with $1,438 million at the end of 2015. Long-term debts totaled $10,516 million compared with $10,515 million at the end of 2015. At the end of the first quarter of 2016, net cash from operating activities stood at $754 million versus $690 million in the same period last year. Free cash flow at the end of first-quarter 2016 was $329 million against $92 million in the prior-year quarter.

Our Take

We believe that declining oil prices have compelled most power plants to substitute coal with cheaper natural gas. Moreover, weaker foreign exchange rates against a stronger U.S. dollar may continue to hurt coal exports for CSX.

In addition, regulatory and competitive pressure from railroad operators like Kansas City Southern KSU, Norfolk Southern Corporation NSC and Canadian National Railway Company CNI may further hurt profits.

CSX currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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KANSAS CITY SOU (KSU): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CSX CORP (CSX): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CDN NATL RY CO (CNI): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
NORFOLK SOUTHRN (NSC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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