Norfolk Southern 1Q profit falls 44% on charge, weak volume

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Norfolk Southern’s first-quarter profit fell 44% because of a one-time charge related to locomotive sales and weak shipping volume driven by the coronavirus outbreak.

The railroad said it earned $381 million, or $1.47 per share, during the quarter, but those results were weighed down by a one-time charge of $385 million, or $1.11 per share. That’s down from $677 million, or $2.51 per share, a year ago.

Without the one-time charge, the results beat Wall Street expectations. The seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected earnings of $2.19 per share, on average.

Norfolk Southern said shipping volume declined 11% in the quarter as manufacturers in a variety of industries slowed production because of the coronavirus outbreak and automakers temporarily closed their factories. The number of carloads the railroad is delivering has continued to fall, and volume is down 30% in the second quarter so far.

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The railroad withdrew its outlook for the year because of the uncertainty.

“While it is unclear how long economic activity will remain suppressed, we are dedicated to serving our customers and keeping our employees healthy and safe while navigating the downturn so that we can emerge strong and resilient for our shareholders,” Norfolk Southern CEO Jim Squires said.

The railroad’s revenue declined 8% to $2.63 billion in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.56 billion.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based railroad operates about 19,500 miles of track in 22 states and the District of Columbia

Norfolk Southern shares rose 7.3% to $183.05 in morning trading.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on NSC at https://www.zacks.com/ap/NSC

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