Q4 2013 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 01/16/2014

The continued expansion in the U.S. housing and construction markets will drive growth of forest products and in our mineral markets. Strong intermodal growth will continue as our strategic network investments and service reliability support highway-to-rail conversions. The outlook of our Phosphate and Fertilizer volumes is neutral due to high inventory levels and volatile commodity pricing, which produces uncertainty in the market.

Finally, export coal. Volume is expected to decline in the first quarter and our best estimate of 2014 volume is in the mid-30 million ton range reflecting soft global market conditions, particularly in the thermal market. At the same time, rail pricing will remain low in order to help keep U.S. coals competitive globally and optimize our bottom line.

Now, I'll wrap up on the next slide. The expansion of the U.S. economy is expected to continue with projected GDP and IDP growth of 2.7% and 3%, respectively. In addition, both the ISM purchasing managers and the customer inventory indices point to continued expansion in 2014.

Looking at the full year, our merchandise and intermodal volumes are expected to grow faster than the overall economy, with gains offsetting the continued headwinds in coal, particularly the export market.

Our intermodal business is expected to be the major growth engine for CSX going forward, as we look to further tap into an estimated $9 million truckload opportunity, which aligns very well with our network by leveraging a strong service product, our Highway-to-Rail or H2R initiative and strategic investments in both terminal and network capacity. For example, in 2014, we will complete our new terminal in Montreal and expand the capacity of the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Hub. Finally the value of the service we provide continues to support both growth and pricing above real inflation over the long term.

Thank you. Now I'll turn the presentation over to Oscar to review our operating results.

Oscar Munoz - EVP and COO, CSX Transportation Inc.: Thank you, Clarence. Good Morning, everyone. I'm pleased to report that 2013 was a year highlighted by an industry-leading safety record, consistent high levels of service for our customers and continued efficiency gains.

As you know, safety is our first and foremost priority. In 2013, CSX continued to evolve its public and employee safety programs leading the industry in both personal injury and train accident frequency rates. While we are pleased with those accomplishments, we are saddened by the loss of four employees last year and are committed to avoid such tragedies and to keep all our employees and the communities, in which we work, safe.

Let me now turn to the Company's operating performance. While overall performance remained strong, some of the measures were down slightly in the fourth quarter both for CSX and the rest of the industry. This is in part due to more challenging weather conditions at the end of 2013 combined with strong volume levels driven by the record grain harvest, crude oil shipments and peak intermodal levels.

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