Norfolk Southern Corp. Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) will unveil its latest earnings on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. Norfolk Southern is engaged in rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products, and finished goods.

Norfolk Southern Corp. Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet.

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for net income of $1.39 per share, a rise of 39% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved up from $1.31. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved up. It has risen from $1.38 during the last month. For the year, analysts are projecting profit of $5.34 per share, a rise of 36.6% from last year.

Past Earnings Performance: The company has beaten estimates the last two quarters and is coming off a quarter where it topped the forecasts by 18 cents, reporting net income of $1.59 per share against a mean estimate of profit of $1.41. In the second quarter, the company exceeded forecasts by 9 cents with net income of $1.38 versus a mean estimate of profit of $1.29.

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Wall St. Revenue Expectations: On average, analysts predict $2.83 billion in revenue this quarter, a rise of 18.4% from the year ago quarter. Analysts are forecasting total revenue of $11.19 billion for the year, a rise of 17.5% from last year’s revenue of $9.52 billion.

Analyst Ratings: Analysts are bullish on this stock with 17 analysts rating it as a buy, none rating it as a sell and eight rating it as a hold.

A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit rose 24.5% to $554 million ($1.59 a share) from $445 million ($1.19 a share) the year earlier, exceeding analyst expectations. Revenue rose 17.6% to $2.89 billion from $2.46 billion.

Key Stats:

The company has enjoyed double-digit year-over-year percentage revenue growth for the past four quarters. Over that span, the company has averaged growth of 16.6%, with the biggest boost coming in the second quarter when revenue rose 17.9% from the year earlier quarter.

The company has seen net income rise in three straight quarters. Net income rose 42.1% in the second quarter and 26.5% in the first quarter.

Competitors to Watch: CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX), Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU), Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE:UNP), Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC (BNI), Providence & Worcester Railroad Co. (NASDAQ:PWX), Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI), Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (NYSE:CP), Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (NYSE:GWR), Pioneer Railcorp (PRRR), and RailAmerica, Inc. (NYSE:RA).

Stock Price Performance: During October 20, 2011 to January 18, 2012, the stock price had risen $7.95 (11.6%) from $68.38 to $76.33. The stock price saw one of its best stretches over the last year between February 3, 2011 and February 17, 2011 when shares rose for 11-straight days, rising 7.2% (+$4.30) over that span. It saw one of its worst periods between July 28, 2011 and August 4, 2011 when shares fell for six-straight days, falling 9.5% (-$7.16) over that span.

(Company fundamentals by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)

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