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NEW YORK — Railroad Norfolk Southern Corp. said Tuesday that second-quarter earnings surged 59 percent, as shipments increased, prices rose and efficiency improved in the recovering economy.
The Norfolk, Va., company earned $392 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with $247 million, or 66 cents per share a year earlier.
Revenue rose 31 percent to $2.43 billion.
Thomson Reuters says analysts forecast a profit of 99 cents per share on revenue of $2.40 billion.
Shipments jumped 22 percent, for the fourth straight quarter of volume growth. Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman said he is "optimistic about continued year-over-year increases in rail traffic."
Railroads are gauges of the nation's broader economic health because they carry a wide range of goods for consumers and businesses.
Sales in Norfolk Southern's biggest category — general merchandise — which includes everything from lumber to cars, rose 31 percent to $1.3 billion. Revenue from shipments of coal, used to generate electricity and make steel, increased by 36 percent.
Also Tuesday, the company raised its dividend by 6 percent and said its board approved the repurchase of up to 50 million additional shares through 2014.
The eastern railroad's rival, CSX Corp., reported second-quarter earnings earlier this month. It said a "dynamic" U.S. economy, combined with an improvement in shipping volume and higher prices, drove its profit up 36 percent.
In aftermarket trading Norfolk Southern shares fell $1.02, almost 2 percent, to $55.50.
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