Three of the four big U.S. systems are spending far more on share buybacks than investing in their networks. What does that say about their view of the underlying business of moving freight?

Tony Hatch (4)

Nothing really — they all still spend a lot — but their customers spend five to seven times more on buybacks as a percentage of revenues. Under normal circumstances, rails generate enough cash flow to fund a balanced plan including Capex, share repurchases, and dividends. It is the nature of business today, the shorter-term-oriented shareholders behind the restructuring and proxy-fight stories at CSX. Interestingly, CSX’s compensation plan runs to year-end 2020. After that, will that plan (and thus Capex) be modeled after PSR mothership CN?