CSX quarterly profit falls as pandemic stifles rail shipments

U.S. railroad operator CSX Corp (CSX.O) reported on Wednesday a drop in quarterly profit after cost controls failed to offset a 20% volume slump from the COVID-19 pandemic that now threatens to derail the fragile U.S. economic recovery.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based company, considered one of the most efficient U.S. railroads, reported second-quarter net income of $499 million, or 65 cents per share, down from $870 million, or $1.08 per share, a year earlier.

The railroad slashed costs, in part, by reducing employee overtime during the quarter.

Revenue tumbled 26% – the largest decline in company history – to $2.26 billion after the automotive segment led across-the-board declines.

Profit for the quarter was a penny per share better than Wall Street analysts expected, but revenue just matched estimates.

While business has been recovering since the nadir in May, raging infections in key states – including Florida, Texas and California – are raising economic risk.

“The ultimate path of the recovery remains too wide to accurately predict at this point,” Chief Executive James Foote said on a conference call with analysts.

Shares were unchanged at $73.26 in after-hours trading.