January 23, 2013 / 3:35 PM / 5 years ago

Railroad CSX expects shipment volume decline to halt in 1st qtr

Jan 23 (Reuters) - CSX Corp, the No. 2 U.S. railroad, said a decline in shipment volumes could come to a halt in the first quarter of 2013 as the fall in domestic coal shipments is expected to moderate.

First-quarter volumes are likely to be flat year over year, the company aid on a post-earnings conference call. Volumes fell 3 percent in the fourth quarter.

Shares of the company, which on Tuesday reported a quarterly profit better than analysts’ expectations, rose 5 percent to $21.78 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. coal shipment will decline 5 percent to 10 percent for 2013, compared with a 29 percent decline in 2012, Chief Executive Michael Ward said.

Coal export, however, is likely to fall about 16 percent to 40 million tons this year, Ward said.

“Furthermore, we anticipate our rates to be pressured as we work with producers to keep U.S. coal competitive globally in an environment where underlying commodity prices for thermal and metallurgical coal are lower,” the CEO said.

Low natural gas prices, high stockpile and weak global demand have put pressure on coal demand.

Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX relies on coal shipments for nearly a third of its revenue. Coal revenue fell 14 percent in 2012.

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