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CSX announced yesterday third-quarter net earnings of $455 million, or 48 cents per share, down from $507 million, or 52 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.The Class I's lower earnings were affected by lower freight volumes, but the earnings still beat Wall Street analysts' estimates. CSX reported an operating ratio of 69."CSX continues to drive strong cost performance and efficiency in this dynamic market environment while meeting or exceeding customer expectations,” said Michael Ward, chairman and chief executive officer in a press release. “Our financial results demonstrate CSX’s ability to deliver value for shareholders and customers in the current business climate as we position the company to maximize opportunities in 2017 and beyond."Revenue declined 8 percent to $2.7 billion compared with the prior year's quarter, as an 8 percent volume decline overall and fuel surcharge revenue more than offset price gains.Operating income decreased 10 percent to $841 million compared with the same year-ago period. Expenses fell 7 percent, driven primarily by $112 million in efficiency gains and $53 million in volume-related cost reductions.Although the U.S. dollar strength and low global commodity prices persisted during Q3, CSX is leveraging network improvements, technology enhancements and "superior service" to capture growth opportunity and achieve a mid-60s operating ratio over the long term, officials said.Coal volumes were down 21 percent compared with volumes in Q3 2015. Domestic utility coal volume declines — although significant for the quarter — began to moderate as hot summer weather drove demand despite high coal inventories and low natural gas prices.In other sectors: Agriculture volume fell 6 percent; industrial volume declined 5 percent, despite an increase in automotive traffic; and housing and construction slipped 4 percent.CSX also posted a 7 percent decline in Q3 intermodal volume.
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