The Jacksonville, Florida-based railroad said Wednesday that it earned $1.17 billion, or 52 cents per share, during the quarter. That is up from $499 million, or 22 cents per share, a year ago. This year's results included a one-time boost of 12 cents per share related to a $349 million sale of property rights to the state of Virginia for passenger rail service.
The adjusted results of 40 cents a share topped the average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research for adjusted earnings of 37 cents per share.
The number of shipments CSX delivered jumped in every category of freight compared to a year ago, when the economy slowed to a crawl because of restrictions related to the pandemic.
"This quarter’s results highlight just how quickly volumes have rebounded as each of our three lines of business experienced record growth as we lapped the most severe economic impacts of the pandemic," CSX CEO Jim Foote said.
The freight railroad said revenue grew 33% to $2.99 billion in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.97 billion revenue.
CSX is sticking to its outlook for double-digit revenue growth this year.
Foote said the economy appears robust right now but many businesses are also facing challenges getting the supplies or employees they need, including CSX. Foote said the railroad has only managed to hire about 200 of the 500 new employees it has been trying bring aboard since January.
"No way did I or anybody else in the last six months realize how difficult it was going to be to try and get people to come to work these days," Foote said. "It is an enormous challenge for us to go out and find people that want to be conductors on the railroad just like it is hard to find people that want to be baristas or anything else. It is very, very difficult."
Ticker Security Last Change Change % CSX CSX CORP. 31.57 +0.39 +1.25%
CSX and the other major railroads were hit with a sharp decline in shipments during the initial months of the coronavirus outbreak, followed by a surge in shipments that began in the second half of last year and continues today.
Edward Jones analyst Jeff Windau said CSX has done a good job handling those wide swings in volume.
"While it has been, I’m sure, a very challenging period for them to manage through, they really did a solid job," Windau said.
CSX shares gained 3% in after-hours trading Wednesday following the release of the earnings report.
CSX operates more than 21,000 miles (34,000 kilometers) of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces.