Norfolk Southern Earnings Call Insights: Yield Deterioration and Liquidated Damages

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Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE:NSC) recently reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Yield Deterioration

Justin Yagerman – Deutsche Bank: Wanted to dig in a bit on this coal pricing, obviously down 11% you said that it was materially weighted towards the export side. So, curious how export broke down from a volume standpoint thermal versus med and then if you could talk a little bit mix and how length of haul may have influenced some of the yield deterioration in the quarter that will be helpful?

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Donald W. Seale – EVP and Chief Marketing Officer: Justin, this is Don. Good afternoon. With respect to export first 75% of our export tons in the quarter were metallurgical coal, 25% steam and I would add for the year (detailing) was 79% net and 21% steam. That market as we indicated in the remarks continues to be challenged with respect to world pricing. We have seen Australian coal to Asia recently tick up a little bit from 160 to 170 per ton. So, little bit of encouragement there with the world market improving with respect to settlement in China. On the mix and length of haul we did have an increase in the quarter of Illinois basin coal going to the river for content Louisiana for export over the port of New Orleans that is shorter haul business. It’s good business for us but it does generate a lower RPU. Also as I’ve pointed out our Lamberts Point tonnage was up 10% – carloads were up 10% and our Baltimore traffic was up 8% and our Baltimore exports carry a lower revenue per unit than our longer haul Lamberts Point export. I hope that covers the question.

Justin Yagerman – Deutsche Bank: Switching to OpEx a little bit. I wanted to dig in – you called out crude by rail has one of the opportunities as you’re looking this year. It looks like PBF has a contract with you guys that should be increasing this year and wanted to also get a sense, how that pipeline looks as you look out at 2013, by our calculations, it looked like just that ramp alone, is like a 30% bump to your current run rate, so curious as you pick up these different contracts, how exacted you are about this opportunity as we look out over the next several months.

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