Cold winter to hit CSX 1Q earnings - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Cold winter to hit CSX 1Q earnings

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This year's harsh winter has been a mix of good and bad for CSX Corp.

"The severe weather has challenged CSX operations and volume, with the impact on first-quarter earnings now expected to approach 10 cents per share," Frederik Eliasson, CSX chief financial officer, said March 12 at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials Conference in New York City.

"However, we still expect full-year earnings growth in 2014, though at a more modest rate than previously anticipated, with the underlying strength in our merchandise and intermodal markets combined with visibility to several million new tons of domestic coal helping to offset the first quarter impact."

After several years of excess inventory at coal-fired utility plants in CSX's service territory, stockpiles are now close to normal levels as a result of the colder-than-normal winter. In addition, broad-based growth in the company's merchandise and intermodal markets in 2014 will continue on the strength of macroeconomic expansion, opportunities afforded by the process of natural gas drilling and conversions from highway to intermodal service, Eliasson said.

Despite the problems caused by winter weather and with utility coal stockpiles getting smaller, CSX expects to deliver double-digit earnings per share growth in 2015, Eliasson said.