Zacks: Brokerages expect Norfolk Southern Co. (NYSE:NSC) to post earnings of $2.91 per share

Analysts predict that Norfolk Southern Co. (NYSE: NSCGet a rating) will report earnings per share (EPS) of $2.91 for the current fiscal quarter, according to Zacks Investment Research. Five analysts have made profit estimates for Norfolk Southern. The highest EPS estimate is $3.02 and the lowest is $2.82. Norfolk Southern reported earnings of $2.66 per share in the same quarter last year, indicating a positive growth rate of 9.4% year over year. The company is expected to announce its next quarterly earnings report before the market opens on Monday, January 1.

On average, analysts expect Norfolk Southern to report annual earnings of $13.69 per share for the current fiscal year, with EPS estimates ranging from $13.40 to $13.98. For the next fiscal year, analysts expect the company to post earnings of $15.06 per share, with EPS estimates ranging from $13.81 to $15.55. Zacks’ EPS calculations are an average based on a survey of research analysts who cover Norfolk Southern.

South Norfolk (NYSE: NSCGet a rating) last released its quarterly results on Wednesday, January 26. The rail operator reported earnings per share of $3.12 for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $3.04 by $0.08. Norfolk Southern had a net margin of 26.97% and a return on equity of 21.28%. The company posted revenue of $2.85 billion for the quarter, versus $2.82 billion expected by analysts. In the same quarter a year earlier, the company posted earnings of $2.64 per share. The company’s quarterly revenue increased 9.6% year over year.

Several analysts have recently released reports on NSC shares. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Norfolk Southern from a “hold” to a “buy” rating and set a target price of $299.00 for the stock in a Tuesday, March 29 research note. Wells Fargo & Company raised its price target on Norfolk Southern shares from $316.00 to $337.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a Monday, Jan. 10, report. Goldman Sachs Group raised its price target on Norfolk Southern shares from $313.00 to $320.00 in a Wednesday, January 26 report. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its price target on Norfolk Southern shares from $318.00 to $308.00 and set an “overweight” rating for the company in a Friday, April 8 research report. Finally, Citigroup raised its price target on Norfolk Southern shares from $310.00 to $345.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a Wednesday, Jan. 5 research report. Two equity research analysts gave the stock a sell rating, six issued a hold rating and twelve gave the company a buy rating. Based on MarketBeat data, Norfolk Southern currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $310.26.

NYSE NSC traded at $2.13 during Friday’s trading, reaching $263.06. 2,129,526 shares of the company have been traded, compared to its average volume of 1,408,365. The stock has a fifty-day moving average of $269.48 and a two-hundred-day moving average of $275.72. The company has a debt ratio of 0.97, a current ratio of 0.86 and a quick ratio of 0.77. Norfolk Southern has a 12-month low of $238.62 and a 12-month high of $299.20. The company has a market capitalization of $63.08 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.70, a PEG ratio of 1.86 and a beta of 1.38.

Norfolk Southern said its board approved a share buyback program on Tuesday, March 29 that allows the company to repurchase $10.00 billion worth of stock. This repurchase authorization allows the rail operator to repurchase up to 14.6% of its shares through purchases on the open market. Stock buyback programs are often a sign that a company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, February 21. Investors of record on Friday, February 4 received a dividend of $1.24. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, February 3. This represents a dividend of $4.96 on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.89%. This is a boost from Norfolk Southern’s previous quarterly dividend of $1.09. Norfolk Southern’s payout ratio is 40.92%.

In other news, Chairman Alan H. Shaw sold 1,000 shares in a trade dated Tuesday, March 1. The shares were sold at an average price of $256.70, for a total transaction of $256,700.00. The sale was disclosed in an SEC filing, which is available via this hyperlink. Additionally, director Steven F. Leer sold 700 shares of the company in a trade that took place on Monday, March 14. The shares were sold at an average price of $265.51, for a total transaction of $185,857.00. Disclosure of this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 64,580 shares of the company valued at $17,379,914 during the last quarter. 0.31% of the shares are currently held by insiders of the company.

A number of institutional investors have recently increased or reduced their stake in NSC. Arlington Partners LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Norfolk Southern during the fourth quarter worth approximately $27,000. Vectors Research Management LLC increased its stake in Norfolk Southern by 468.8% in the fourth quarter. Vectors Research Management LLC now owns 91 shares of the train operator worth $27,000 after buying 75 more shares in the last quarter. SRS Capital Advisors Inc. increased its stake in Norfolk Southern by 51.8% in the third quarter. SRS Capital Advisors Inc. now owns 126 shares of the railroad operator worth $30,000 after buying 43 more shares in the last quarter. First Community Trust NA purchased a new post from Norfolk Southern in Q4 valued at approximately $30,000. Finally, Richwood Investment Advisors LLC bought a new position in Norfolk Southern during Q4, valued at around $37,000. 72.91% of the shares are held by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About South Norfolk (Get a rating)

Norfolk Southern Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, is involved in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished products in the United States. The company transports agricultural, forestry and consumer products including soybeans, wheat, corn, fertilizers, livestock and poultry feed, foodstuffs, edible oils, flour, sweeteners, ethanol, wood and wood products, pulp boards and paper products, wood fibers, wood pulp, scrap paper, beverages, canned goods and consumer products; chemicals include sulfur and related chemicals, petroleum products, chlorine and bleach compounds, plastics, rubber, industrial chemicals, chemical waste and sand; metals and building materials, such as steel, aluminum products, machinery, scrap metal, cement, aggregates, minerals, clay, transportation equipment, and military-related products ; and automotive, including finished motor vehicles and auto parts, as well as coal.

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