Norfolk Southern Q3 profit up 32% despite flat rail volume

Oct 27, 2021, 6:00 AM | Updated: 12:10 pm
FILE - A Norfolk Southern freight train rolls through the Northside of Pittsburgh on April 9, 2021....

FILE - A Norfolk Southern freight train rolls through the Northside of Pittsburgh on April 9, 2021. Norfolk Southern's third-quarter profit jumped 32% even though the number of shipments the railroad delivered remained relatively flat because it was able to increase prices on most categories of freight. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Norfolk Southern’s third-quarter profit jumped 32% even though the number of shipments the railroad delivered remained relatively flat because it was able to increase prices on most categories of freight.

The railroad said it earned $753 million, $3.06 per share, in the quarter. That’s up from $569 million, or $2.22 per share, a year ago when the results were weighed down by a one-time $99 million charge. Without that Norfolk Southern’s profits were up 17%.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.89 per share.

The railroad’s revenue grew 14% to $2.85 billion, which also topped analysts’ forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.74 billion.

Most categories of shipments were up during the quarter, but volume was still flat overall because of a sharp 23% decline in automotive shipments and a 4% decline in intermodal shipments. The auto industry is struggling to maintain production because of the shortage of computer chips, and intermodal shipments of containers that come off ships before being hauled by railroads and delivered by trucks slipped because of the snarled supply chain.

“In the midst of significant supply chain disruptions and labor shortages across the country, we’re delivering upon our commitments,” Norfolk Southern CEO Jim Squires said.

The railroad tweaked its outlook for the year to call for at least 12% growth in revenue. Previously, it had just predicted a 12% increase.

A year ago, shipping volume plummeted during the second quarter as restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic slowed the economy to a crawl before rebounding sharply in the second half of 2020 as those restrictions were being lifted.

Edward Jones analyst Jeff Windau said Norfolk Southern’s results in the quarter show that the railroad is continuing to make progress in improving productivity because they were able to offset higher fuel costs and other expenses during the quarter.

Citi Research analyst Christian Wetherbee said in a research note that Norfolk Southern delivered a solid performance similar to what the other major railroads reported last week, and its strong outlook for the year suggests railroads will continue to profit in the fourth quarter.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based company is one of the nation’s largest railroads, and it operates about 19,500 miles of track in 22 Eastern states and the District of Columbia.


Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on NSC at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

WHO members eye pandemic preparation, as new variant emerges

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization is opening a long-planned special session of member states to discuss ways to strengthen the global fight against pandemics like the coronavirus, just as the worrying new omicron variant has sparked immediate concerns worldwide. In the wake of diplomatic wrangling, a draft resolution at the special World Health […]
3 hours ago
FILE - The flag of Iran waves in front of the the International Center building with the headquarte...
Associated Press

Iran nuclear talks to resume in Vienna amid muted hopes

VIENNA (AP) — Negotiators gathered in Vienna on Monday to resume talks over reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, with hopes of quick progress muted after the arrival of a hard-line new government in Tehran led to a more than five-month hiatus. The remaining signatories to the nuclear deal formally known as the […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

UAE eases drug laws: No more jail for those bringing in THC

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates has eased some of its harsh drug laws, relaxing penalties for travelers who arrive in the country with products containing THC, the main intoxicating chemical in cannabis. The new law, published Sunday in the UAE’s official gazette, says people caught carrying food, drinks and other […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

France waits on tests for 8 suspected omicron variant cases

PARIS (AP) — French authorities are waiting Monday for laboratory confirmation of eight suspected cases of the new variant of the coronavirus, involving people who traveled recently to southern Africa. Testing already conducted determined that the travelers were positive for the virus but not for one of its previous variants. Follow-up genetic testing was being […]
3 hours ago
FILE - A Black Friday shopper wearing a face mask leaves a Walmart store with a TV in Pic Rivera Ca...
Associated Press

Food, gas prices pinch families as inflation surges globally

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — From appliance stores in the United States to food markets in Hungary and gas stations in Poland, rising consumer prices fueled by high energy costs and supply chain disruptions are putting a pinch on households and businesses worldwide. Rising inflation is leading to price increases for food, gas and other products […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

This Week: Consumer confidence, Beige book, Nonfarm payrolls

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week: EYE ON CONSUMERS The Conference Board delivers its monthly index of U.S. consumer confidence Tuesday. The November index is expected to show a reading of 110.9, which would be down from 113.8 in October, when consumer confidence rose as the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford offers cars and deals for all this holiday season

Sanderson Ford’s No! Vember Black Friday sale is giving an opportunity to purchase a new 2021 vehicle just in time for the holiday season.
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.
Norfolk Southern Q3 profit up 32% despite flat rail volume