On the Line: CSX CEO Michael Ward

Homebuildiers, banks and mortgage insurers are all down big, but not one heavily invested hedge fund has made a sound. Strange then, that rail-road company CSX of all firms would get an earful from The Children’s Investment Fund.

CSX is up 17% for the year, but that’s not good enough for TCI, as the fund is called. TCI has fired off letter after letter imploring CSX’s board to dump Chairman, CEO and President Michael Ward – even though the stock is up 194% since he took the reins. So what’s the deal?

Ward is confident in his company’s performance. CSX has tripled its dividend during his tenure, initiated a $3 billion stock buyback and offered forward guidance through 2010 where earnings per share are expected to grow 15% to 17% a year.

And that TCI suggestion that CSX should borrow heavily to buyback even more stock? The board of directors said no. Looks like they were “proved right by the changes in the credit market,” Ward said.

“We’re going to continue to deliver for all our shareholders,” Ward said, “and TCI will benefit like everyone else.”

Cramer doesn’t doubt it. “I see so many CEOs that I can’t stand, why the heck pick on a guy who’s making us money?” he said. “I say buy CSX.”

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