- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Railroad operator CSX said Tuesday its first-quarter profit fell 30 percent from a year earlier, but the results handily beat Wall Street’s expectations as cost cuts partially offset battered demand.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company said Tuesday it earned $246 million, or 62 cents per share for the quarter, compared with $351 million, or 85 cents per share a year earlier.

Revenue fell 17 percent to $2.25 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, predicted profit of 51 cents per share on revenue of $2.26 billion.

CSX, like other major U.S. railroads, is considered a bellwether of the nation’s economy because it transports everything from cars to heating oil and building materials across the country.

CSX _ the first major U.S. railroad to report first-quarter results _ said volume was down across all segments, as construction and consumer-related markets remained weak.

However, CSX said it was able to trim operating expenses by 17 percent through productivity initiatives throughout its network. It furloughed thousands off workers as demand plunged through the quarter.

The company also said fuel expenses decreased by $250 million because of lower fuel prices and shrinking volume. CSX paid an average $1.39 a gallon for locomotive fuel in the first quarter of 2009 compared to $2.82 a gallon in the same period a year ago.

In aftermarket trading, CSX shares, which finished the regular session down 50 cents at $28.39, added $1.61, or 5.6 percent, to reach $30.50.

(This version CORRECTS percentage profit decline to 30 percent, sted 27.)

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