Kansas City Southern first-quarter profit beats expectations

FILE PHOTO: A wagon of a freight train of the Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railway Company is pictured in Toluca, Mexico October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

(Reuters) - U.S. railroad operator Kansas City Southern on Wednesday reported a first-quarter profit that topped Wall Street’s estimate, boosted by an increase in refined fuel and grain shipments to Mexico.

Shares in the company, which gets one-third of its revenue from Mexico, jumped 2.6 percent to $121 in early trading. First-quarter net income available to common stockholders fell 29 percent to $102.7 million, or $1.02 per share, versus a year earlier.

Excluding items, KSU earned $1.54 per share, beating the average analyst estimate by 10 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue increased 6 percent to $675 million during the quarter. Car loads fell 1 percent, largely due to protests by teachers, who blocked tracks for four weeks starting on Jan. 14 and disrupted shipments between Toluca, near Mexico City, and the Pacific Ocean port of Lazaro Cardenas.

Executives previously said that the labor uprisings would reduce profits by 5 cents per share in the first quarter.

KSU has hired management consultant Sameh Fahmy, a former Canadian National Railway Co executive who worked beside industry turnaround expert Hunter Harrison, to implement so-called Precision Scheduled Railroading measures aimed at reducing costs and improving train reliability.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Nick Zieminski