U.S. railroads Norfolk Southern Corp and Kansas City Southern posted results that topped Wall Street’s forecasts, as recovering businesses needed to ship more products and commodities.

The results continued a trend of strong reports from the transportation sector over the past week, which has been seen demand rebound as factories kick into operation and distributors restock warehouses.

Solid demand for the industrial and agricultural commodities railroads haul will help them boost volume and prices over the rest of 2010, executives said.

“We should be strong for the rest of the year,” said Kansas City Chairman Mike Haverty. “We don’t see any indicators at this point that show that we are getting ready to take a dive.”

Norfolk Tops Street View
Norfolk Southern posted 58.7 percent profit growth, topping analysts’ forecasts, on revenue that met Wall Street’s expectations.

Net income was $392 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with profit of $247 million, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had looked for profit of 99 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 30.9 percent to $2.4 billion.

“This is our fourth straight quarter of volume growth, and we are optimistic about continued year-over-year increases in rail traffic,” said Chief Executive Wick Moorman.

Kansas City Faces Strom Headwind
Kansas City reported a profit of $34.6 million, or 34 cents per share, available to common shareholders, up from $6.5 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 35.2 percent to $461.6 million.

Excluding one-time items, it reported profit of 55 cents per share, topping the analysts’ average estimate of 46 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

But gains from tax recoveries and an insurance benefit somewhat inflated the magnitude of the beat, Kauffman said.

The railroad experienced three weeks of service disruptions in Mexico this month—following the quarter’s end—after flooding from Hurricane Alex damaged some of its tracks around Monterrey.

It said the effects of that incident would reduce third-quarter profit by about 5 cents per share, although insurance would cover most of the cost of the disruptions. It expects to book insurance recoveries in the third and fourth quarters.

The most prominent prediction of this year’s railroad rebound came from famed investor Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc in February bought No. 2 U.S. railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe in a move the billionaire described as an “all-in wager” on the future of the U.S. economy. (Reuters)