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CSX Profit Rises 46%, Beats Wall Street View

U.S. railroad CSX Corp reported a better-than-expected profit on Tuesday, citing strong pricing, fuel surcharges and growth in shipments of coal for export and ethanol, despite a slowdown in the automotive and housing sectors.

The company also gave a robust full-year outlook above analyst expectations.

Net earnings rose 46 percent to $351 million, or 85 cents per share, compared with $240 million, or 52 cents per share a year earlier.

The railroad said the first-quarter profit included a benefit of 5 cents per share from a noncash equity earnings adjustment and 2 cents from insurance recoveries.

Analysts, on average, had expected profit of 72 cents per share excluding benefits, according to Reuters Estimates.

Like the other U.S. railroads, CSX has managed to maintain strong profits, despite falling freight volumes over the past few quarters, thanks to strong pricing. The question posed by some analysts is how long the railroads can continue to deliver such strong results in the face of a possible U.S. recession.

Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX said that revenue rose 12 percent in the first quarter to $2.7 billion, with revenue up in six of its 10 markets.

Apart from coal and ethanol shipments, CSX said grain shipments were up and described the industrial economy as "stable."

CSX now expects full-year earnings per share at the upper end of its previously announced range of $3.40 to $3.60. Analysts have forecast 2008 EPS of $3.33.