CSX now sees Q4 EPS on reported basis flat to slightly up
Previously forecast Q4 EPS down vs. prior year. "We now expect fourth-quarter earnings per share on a reported basis to be flat to slightly up, as macroeconomic headwinds impacting the company's volume are moderating," CFO Frank Lonegro said. "At the same time, a recent operating property sale will now offset the impact of a debt refinancing charge announced earlier in the quarter." Quarter-to-date volume has declined three percent overall, and many markets are showing more moderate declines than in previous quarters. Coal in particular is showing sequential volume stabilization and is essentially flat in the fourth quarter to date. With macroeconomic headwinds moderating, Lonegro indicated that total volume is now expected to decline in the low-to-mid single digit range on a comparable 13-week basis, and expected to be flat to slightly up including the extra week that is part of CSX's 2016 accounting year. Lonegro also highlighted the results of CSX's aggressive efficiency initiatives. Through the third quarter, CSX has delivered about $550 million of cost savings, which includes both efficiency initiatives and volume-related savings. He reinforced CSX's expectations for full-year 2016 efficiency savings of around $400 million, including about $100 million from structural changes in the coal network, $150 million from normal productivity initiatives, and the balance from key initiatives such as train length which has increased 20 percent over the past two years.