* First-quarter rev $607.4 mln vs est $598.8 mln
* Adjusted earnings $1.05/share vs est $0.99
* Revenue from grain shipments jumps 69 pct (Adds CEO comment, details, share price)
April 16 (Reuters) - Railroad operator Kansas City Southern reported better-than-expected quarterly results as a bumper corn crop in 2013 led to higher grain shipments.
Revenue from grain shipments, which had suffered early last year after a drought in the U.S. Midwest in 2012, jumped 69 percent in the first quarter.
Most of the grain shipments were in the form of long-haul traffic from the U.S. Midwest to Mexico, Chief Executive David Starling said on a conference call with analysts.
Kansas City Southern is in a better position than most U.S. railroads due to the strength of its cross-border business with Mexico.
The company runs north to south while most other railroads operate east to west, making it difficult for them to capitalize on the booming trade with Mexico.
Kansas City Southern said it expected growth in grain shipments to stay strong in the current quarter, but to plateau in the latter half of the year.
The company, like U.S. railroads, was hit last year by dropping demand for coal as utilities switched to cheaper natural gas.
But Kansas City Southern said on Wednesday that coal volumes were better than expected due to a rise in natural gas prices.
Total revenue rose to $607.4 million from $552.8 million.
Kansas City Southern’s net income fell to $94 million, or 85 cents per share, for the quarter ended March 31, from $104.2 million, or 94 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned $1.05 per share.
Analysts on average expected earnings of 99 cents per share, on revenue of $598.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company’s shares were little changed in after-market trading after closing at $101.44 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
They have dropped about 2 percent in the past year, compared with a 26 percent rise in the S&P railroads index. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings)