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No Spring Economic Swoon on the Rails: CSX CEO

Wednesday, 17 Apr 2013 | 10:40 AM ET
CSX CEO Reads Transport Tea Leaves
Wednesday, 17 Apr 2013 | 7:15 AM ET
Michael Ward, president, chairman, and CEO of CSX, discusses his company's better-than-expected earnings, and weighs in on the outlook on the economy.

Following the release of better-than-expected earnings, Michael Ward, CEO of rail operator CSX Corp., told CNBC on Wednesday he does not see evidence of the recent economic pullback in his business.

"Overall we're still in a slow growth mode: one to two percent kind of growth in the economy," he said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "[But] whatever GDP is, we will growth at a faster rate than that."

(Read More: Retail Sales Slump in March as Shoppers Stay Home)

After the closing bell on Wall Street Tuesday, the rail giant reported first-quarter profits of 45 cents a share—five cents above analysts' estimates.

CSX also approved a 7 percent increase in its quarterly dividend and a new $1 billion share buyback program.

A CSX. Corp locomotive engine.
Tim Boyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A CSX. Corp locomotive engine.

Revenue was a tad higher than expectations at $2.96 billion, but Ward noted it could have been better.

"We had some challenges in the coal market, where the inventory is a little high," he explained. "If we exclude coal revenues in the quarter, other revenues were up 5 percent."

(Read More: Get the Latest Profit Reports at CNBC's Earnings Central)

In addition to strength in the auto transportation, Ward said the chemicals market has been a standout.

"Two things are driving that," he continued, "one is frac sand going into the various Shale plays for fractionating. We are [also] beginning to see crude oil moving from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota—moving to the East Coast refineries."

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere; Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC

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