Norfolk Southern Corp. NSC reported Wednesday fourth-quarter profit that came up shy of forecasts, as railway expenses rose more than revenue, which topped forecasts. The railroad operator’s stock was still inactive in the premarket. Net income rose to $790 million, or $3.42 a share, from $760 million, or $3.12 a share, in the year-ago period. The FactSet consensus for earnings per share was $3.44. Railway revenue grew 13.5% to $3.24 billion, above the FactSet consensus of $3.21 billion. Railway expenses jumped 19%, including a 62% increase in fuel costs and a 9% rise in employee compensation and benefits costs. Separately, the company said late Tuesday that it increased its quarterly dividend by 8.9% to $1.35 a share, with the new dividend payable Feb. 21 to shareholders of record on Feb. 3. Based on Tuesday’s stock closing price of $255.88, the new annual dividend rate implies a yield of 2.11%, which compares with the implied yield on the S&P 500 of 1.68%. The stock has soared 18.6% over the past three months through Tuesday, while the S&P 500 SPX has gained 4.1%.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.
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