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CSX net earnings drop YOY in Q4'19 amid decline in revenue, freight volume

CSX Corp.'s profit dropped year over year in the fourth quarter of 2019 as weaker shipment volumes and headwinds in the coal market led to a decline in revenue.

The U.S. railroad operator reported net earnings of $771 million, or 99 cents per share, for the quarter, down from $843 million, or $1.01 per share, in the year-ago period.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus GAAP EPS estimate for the quarter was 97 cents.

Fourth-quarter 2019 revenue fell year over year to $2.89 billion from $3.14 billion, missing the consensus estimate of $2.92 billion.

All main business segments of CSX recorded decreases in freight volumes. Volumes and revenue slumped 17% and 22%, respectively, in the coal business.

CSX said continued competition from natural gas drove the decline in coal volume in the domestic market, while lower benchmark prices for thermal and metallurgical coal led to a fall in the volume of coal exports.

The company said its operating ratio narrowed to a fourth-quarter record of 60.0%, from 60.3% a year earlier. Operating income decreased year over year to $1.15 billion from $1.25 billion in the quarter.

For full year 2019, CSX reported net earnings of $3.33 billion, or $4.17 per share, up from a profit of $3.31 billion, or $3.84 per share, in 2018.

Full-year 2019 revenue fell to $11.94 billion from $12.25 billion in 2018.