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CSX hopeful despite slowdown for coal

Oct. 17, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

OMAHA, Neb. -- CSX Corp. remains optimistic the railroad's profits will improve over the next two years even though coal demand has remained stubbornly weak.

Officials at the Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad said Wednesday that shipments of intermodal containers and merchandise will continue to be a larger part of their business.

"All in all, we're looking at the economy and it looks like it's poised to continue to grow. Still there's a lot of room to grow yet," said Michael Ward, CSX's chairman, president and CEO.

CSX officials expect the economy to grow slowly next year, driving shipment expansion. The railroad has seen robust growth in shipments of crude oil and products related to housing construction. CSX is also trying to persuade more shippers to use rail instead of trucks.

CSX said Tuesday its third-quarter net income rose 2 percent to $463 million, or 46 cents per share, as revenue rose 4 percent to nearly $3 billion. That beat Wall Street expectations.

The railroad predicts this year's earnings per share will improve slightly over last year and expects annual growth of between 10 to 15 percent from 2013 through 2015.

But CSX will have to continue grappling with diminished demand for coal, which once accounted for nearly 30 percent of its business. All the major freight railroads have been struggling with weak coal demand over the past two years as cheap natural gas prices prompted many utilities to switch fuels.

New leader chosen for W. Virginia tech park

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Regional Technology Park Corp. and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission have hired the head of a Texas biotechnology firm to take the helm at the South Charleston research and technology park.

Dr. Rusty Kruzelock will take over as executive director and chief executive officer of the Regional Technology Park Corp. Nov. 1, the commission announced Wednesday.

Kruzelock fills the opening created by the departure of Phil Halstead, who resigned in February.

Kruzelock will move to West Virginia later this month from Kyle, Texas, where he worked as president of Cenovance, LLC, a biotechnology company he co-founded.

Gasoline prices down a penny in West Virginia

CHARLESTON -- A gallon of gas in West Virginia fell by a cent from last week, to $3.40 for regular unleaded.

While still above the national average by nearly a nickel, it's down by almost 50 cents from the same time last year. The Triple A said it expects gas prices to fall in the months to come because of supplies, flat demand and cheaper winter-blend gasoline.

Gas prices in West Virginia range from lows of $3.30 a gallon in Bridgeport and Huntington to a high of $3.60 in Martinsburg.

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