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Norfolk Southern earnings up despite coal problems

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Norfolk Southern Corp. overcame a 9 percent decrease in coal revenues to post net income of $482 million in the third quarter, up from $402 million in the same quarter last year.

Earnings growth was powered by growth in the railroad's chemicals, metals/construction, intermodal and automotive businesses, combined with ongoing productivity improvements, CEO Wick Moorman said in the quarterly earnings report released Oct. 23.

Railway operating revenues were $2.8 billion, 5 percent higher compared with third quarter 2012, with shipment volumes increasing 4 percent. Coal revenues were $641 million, 9 percent lower compared with the third quarter last year, due to lower average revenue per unit and a 2 percent decline in volumes.

Utility coal shipments were down 2 percent to 25.4 million tons, but tonnage for export was up 5 percent to 6.5 million tons. domestic coal shipments were down 6 percent, and industrial shipments fell by 4 percent.