April 19, 2013 / 1:10 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kansas City Southern profit rises on auto, intermodal shipments

* First-quarter adj. EPS $0.89 vs est $0.88

* Revenue rises 1 pct to $552.8 mln vs est $570.7 mln

* Cross-border intermodal revenue rises 71 pct

* Shares rise before the bell

April 19 (Reuters) - Kansas City Southern, the No. 4 U.S. railroad, beat analysts’ expectations with a 39 percent rise in quarterly profit, as strong automotive and cross-border intermodal shipments offset drought-related decline in grain volumes.

Intermodal shipment revenue rose about 15 percent to $79.8 million, while revenue from shipment of autos rose 31 percent to $49.1 million. Cross-border intermodal revenue rose 71 percent.

The strength of its cross-border business has placed Kansas City Southern in a better position than most U.S. railroads, whose heavy dependence on coal shipments has hurt them since early 2012 as demand for coal slumped.

Kansas City shares were up 1.4 percent at $104.80 before the bell.

Revenue from agriculture and minerals business fell about 28 percent, hit mainly by a decrease in grain volumes resulting from the drought in the U.S. Midwest.

“We believe that if harvest levels return to normal in the fall, the KCS grain revenues should rebound later in 2013,” Chief Executive Officer David Starling said in a statement.

Torrential downpours across a broad swath of the U.S. Midwest this week are easing the worst drought in more than 50 years, flooding streams, snarling river transportation, stalling corn plantings - and changing the outlook for the American farm economy in 2013.

Net income available to stockholders rose to $103.7 million, or 94 cents per share, in the first quarter, from $74.9 million, or 68 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 89 cents per share. Revenue rose 1 percent to $552.8 million.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 88 cents per share on revenue of $570.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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