Ward said he believes CSX and the other freight railroads have a bright long-term future as more freight shifts from trucking companies to rails, but the immediate future will be challenging.
CSX officials plan to invest $2.3 billion in the railroad's network and equipment this year, similar to last year's $2.25 billion capital spending.
CSX said Tuesday that it generated $443 million in net income, or 43 cents per share, in the last three months of 2012. That's down from $457 million, or 43 cents per share, in the previous year's quarter.
Revenue fell 2 percent to $2.9 billion. CSX said declines in coal shipments more than offset gains in intermodal and merchandise shipments.
Sterne Agee analyst Jeff Kauffman said in a research note that CSX posted a decent fourth-quarter, but he's not sure if the railroad can improve profits in 2013 if coal demand remains weak, as predicted.
CSX operates over 21,000 miles of track in 23 eastern states and two Canadian provinces.
In afternoon trading CSX shares rose 88 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $21.69.
Follow Josh Funk online at www.twitter.co/funkwrite
CSX Corp.: www.csx.com