The Daily Warren Buffett Stock is NSC. Berkshire Hathaway owns 1,933,000 shares. As of Dec 31,2007, this represents 0.14% percent of portfolio.
GENERAL - Norfolk Southern Corporation ( Norfolk Southern) is a Norfolk , Virginia based company that controls a major freight railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway Company. Norfolk Southern Railway Company is primarily engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest and, via interchange with rail carriers, to and from the rest of the United States . Norfolk Southern also transports overseas freight through several Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. Norfolk Southern provides comprehensive logistics services and offers the most extensive intermodal network in the eastern half of the United States . The common stock of Norfolk Southern is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol â€śNSC.â€ť
Norfolk Southern was incorporated on July 23, 1980 , under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia . On June l, 1982, Norfolk Southern acquired control of two major operating railroads, Norfolk and Western Railway Company (NW) and Southern Railway Company (Southern) in accordance with an Agreement of Merger and Reorganization dated as of July 31, 1980, and with the approval of the transaction by the Interstate Commerce Commission (now the Surface Transportation Board [STB]). Effective Dec. 31, 1990 , Norfolk Southern transferred all the common stock of NW to Southern, and Southern's name was changed to Norfolk Southern Railway Company (Norfolk Southern Railway or NSR). Effective Sept. 1, 1998 , NW was merged with and into Norfolk Southern Railway. As of Dec. 31, 2007, all the common stock of Norfolk Southern Railway was owned directly by Norfolk Southern.
Through a limited liability company, Norfolk Southern and CSX Corporation (CSX) jointly own Conrail Inc. (Conrail), whose primary subsidiary is Consolidated Rail Corporation (CRC). Norfolk Southern has a 58% economic and 50% voting interest in the jointly owned entity, and CSX has the remainder of the economic and voting interests. CRC owns and operates certain properties (the Shared Assets Areas) for the joint and exclusive benefit of NSR and CSX Transportation Inc. (CSXT) (see Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements).
Norfolk Southern makes available free of charge through its website, www.nscorp.com, its annual report on Form 10â€‘K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition, the following documents are available on the companyâ€™s website and in print to any shareholder who requests them:
â€˘ Corporate Governance Guidelines
â€˘ Charters of the Committees of the Board of Directors
â€˘ The Thoroughbred Code of Ethics for employees
â€˘ Code of Ethical Conduct for Senior Financial Officers
â€˘ Categorical Independence Standards for Directors
Unless otherwise indicated, Norfolk Southern and its subsidiaries are referred to collectively as NS.
RAILROAD OPERATIONS â€“ As of Dec. 31, 2007, NSâ€™ railroads operated approximately 21,000 miles of road in 22 eastern states and the District of Columbia .
The systemâ€™s lines reach many individual industries, electric generating facilities, mines (in western Virginia , eastern Kentucky , southern and northern West Virginia and western Pennsylvania ), distribution centers, transload facilities and other businesses located in smaller communities in its service area.
Corridors with heaviest freight volume:
New York City area to Chicago (via Allentown and Pittsburgh )
Chicago to Macon (via Cincinnati , Chattanooga and Atlanta )
Appalachian coal fields of Virginia , West Virginia and Kentucky to Norfolk and Sandusky , OH
Cleveland to Kansas City
Birmingham to Meridian
Memphis to Chattanooga
Triple Crown Operations â€“ Triple Crown Services Company (TCSC), NSâ€™ subsidiary, offers door-to-door intermodal service using RoadRailerÂ® equipment and domestic containers. RoadRailerÂ® units are enclosed vans that can be pulled over highways in tractor-trailer configuration and over the rails by locomotives. TCSC provides intermodal service in major traffic corridors, including those between the Midwest and the Northeast, the Midwest and the Southeast, and the Midwest and Texas .
RAILWAY OPERATING REVENUES -- NS' total railway operating revenues were $9.4 billion in 2007. See the financial information by traffic segment in Part II, Item 7, â€śManagementâ€™s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.â€ť
COAL TRAFFIC -- Coal, coke and iron ore -- most of which is bituminous coal -- is NS' railroads' largest commodity group as measured by revenues. The railroads handled a total of 186.0 million tons in 2007, most of which originated on NS' lines in West Virginia , Virginia , Pennsylvania and Kentucky . Revenues from coal, coke and iron ore accounted for about 25% of NS' total railway operating revenues in 2007.
Total coal handled through all system ports in 2007 was 34.1 million tons. Of this total, 13.4 million tons (including coastwise traffic) moved through Norfolk , Virginia , 2.9 million tons moved through the Baltimore Terminal, 10.9 million tons moved to various docks on the Ohio River, and 6.9 million tons moved to various Lake Erie ports. Other than coal for export, virtually all coal handled by NS' railroads was terminated in states east of the Mississippi River .
See the discussion of coal traffic, by type of coal, in Part II, Item 7, â€śManagement's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.â€ť
GENERAL MERCHANDISE TRAFFIC - General merchandise traffic is composed of five major commodity groupings: automotive; chemicals; metals and construction; agriculture, consumer products and government; and paper, clay and forest products. The automotive group includes finished vehicles for BMW, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda, Isuzu, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Saab, Subaru, Suzu ki , Toyota and Volkswagen, and auto parts for Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota . The chemicals group includes sulfur and related chemicals, petroleum products, chlorine and bleaching compounds, plastics, rubber, industrial chemicals, chemical wastes and municipal wastes. The metals and construction group includes steel, aluminum products, machinery, scrap metals, cement, aggregates, bricks and minerals. The agriculture, consumer products and government group includes soybeans, wheat, corn, fertilizer, animal and poultry feed, food oils, flour, beverages, canned goods, sweeteners, consumer products, ethanol and items for the military. The paper, clay and forest products group includes lumber and wood products, pulp board and paper products, wood fibers, wood pulp, scrap paper and clay.
In 2007, 142 million tons of general merchandise freight, or approximately 67% of total general merchandise tonnage handled by NS, originated online. The balance of general merchandise traffic was received from connecting carriers at interterritorial gateways. The principal interchange points for NS-received traffic included Chicago , Memphis , New Orleans , Cincinnati , Kansas City, Detroit , Hagerstown , St. Louis/East St. Louis and Louisville . General merchandise carloads handled in 2007 were 2.8 million, the revenue from which accounted for 55% of NSâ€™ total railway operating revenues in 2007.
See the discussion of general merchandise rail traffic by commodity group in Part II, Item 7, â€śManagement's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.â€ť
INTERMODAL TRAFFIC - The intermodal market consists of shipments moving in trailers, domestic and international containers, and RoadrailerÂ® equipment. These shipments are handled on behalf of intermodal marketing companies, international steamship lines, truckers and other shippers. Intermodal units handled in 2007 were 3.1 million, the revenues from which accounted for 20% of NSâ€™ total railway operating revenues for the year.
See the discussion of intermodal traffic in Part II, Item 7, â€śManagement's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.â€ť
FREIGHT RATES - In 2007, NS' railroads continued their reliance on private contracts and exempt price quotes as their predominant pricing mechanisms. Thus, a major portion of NS' railroads' freight business is not currently economically regulated by the government. In general, market forces have been substituted for government regulation and now are the primary determinant of rail service prices.
In 2006, NS' railroads were found by the STB to be â€śrevenue adequateâ€ť based on results for the year 2005. The STB has not made its revenue adequacy determination for the year 2006. A railroad is â€śrevenue adequateâ€ť under the applicable law when its return on net investment exceeds the rail industry's composite cost of capital. This determination is made pursuant to a statutory requirement.
â€˘ Regularly scheduled passenger trains are operated by Amtrak on NS' lines between the following locations:
- Alexandria , Virginia , and New Orleans , Louisiana
- Raleigh and Charlotte , North Carolina
- Selma and Charlotte , North Carolina
- Chicago , Illinois , and Porter, Indiana
- Chicago , Illinois , and Battle Creek , Michigan
- Chicago , Illinois , and Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania
- Chicago , Illinois , and Detroit , Michigan
- Pittsburgh and Harrisburg , Pennsylvania
â€˘ Commuter trains are operated on the NS line between Manassas and Alexandria in accordance with contracts with two transportation commissions of the Commonwealth of Virginia
â€˘ NS leases the Chicago to Manhattan , Illinois , line to the Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority of Northeast Illinois
â€˘ NS operates freight service over lines with significant ongoing Amtrak and commuter passenger operations, and is conducting freight operations over trackage owned by:
- New Jersey Transit
- Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
- Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company
- Maryland Department of Transportation
â€˘ Passenger operations are conducted either by Amtrak or by the commuter agencies over trackage owned by Conrail in the Shared Assets Areas.
NONCARRIER OPERATIONS - NS' noncarrier subsidiaries engage principally in the acquisition, leasing and management of coal, oil, gas and minerals; the development of commercial real estate; telecommunications; and the leasing or sale of rail property and equipment. In 2007, no such noncarrier subsidiary or industry segment grouping of noncarrier subsidiaries met the requirements for a reportable business segment set forth in Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 131.
The NS railroad system extends across 22 states and the District of Columbia . The railroad infrastructure makes the company capital intensive with total property of approximately $22 billion.
Capital spending and maintenance programs are and have been designed to assure the ability to provide safe, efficient and reliable transportation services. For 2008, NS has budgeted $1.43 billion of capital expenditures. On May 1, 2006, NS and Kansas City Southern (KCS) formed a joint venture (MSLLC) pursuant to which NS intends to contribute $300 million in cash, substantially all of which will be used for capital improvements over a period of approximately three years, in exchange for a 30% interest in the joint venture. Through Dec. 31, 2007, NS has contributed $240 million, see the discussion following â€śCash used for investing activities,â€ť in Part II, Item 7, â€śManagement's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.â€ť
Between 1988 and 2000, about 29,000 coal cars were rebodied. As a result, the remaining serviceability of the freight car fleet is greater than may be inferred from the high percentage of freight cars built in earlier years.
Ongoing freight car and locomotive maintenance programs are intended to ensure the highest standards of safety, reliability, customer satisfaction and equipment marketability. The locomotive bad order ratio includes units out of service for required inspections every 92 days and program work such as overhauls.
Encumbrances - Certain railroad equipment is subject to the prior lien of equipment financing obligations amounting to approximately $389 million as of Dec. 31, 2007, and $534 million as of Dec. 31, 2006.
Track Maintenance - Of the approximately 38,000 total miles of track operated, NS had responsibility for maintaining about 29,300 miles of track with the remainder being operated under trackage rights.
Over 75% of the main line trackage (including first, second, third and branch main tracks, all excluding trackage rights) has rail ranging from 131 to 155 pounds per yard with the standard installation currently at 136 pounds per yard. Approximately 45% of NS lines carried 20 million or more gross tons per track mile during 2007.
Microwave System - The NS microwave system, consisting of approximately 7,400 radio route miles, 424 core stations, 14 secondary stations and 5 passive repeater stations, provides communications between most operating locations. The microwave system is used primarily for voice communications, VHF radio control circuits, data and facsimile transmissions, traffic control operations and AEI data transmissions.
Traffic Control - Of the approximately 15,900 route miles owned by NS, about 11,000 miles are signalized, including 8,000 miles of centralized traffic control (CTC) and 3,000 miles of automatic block signals. Of the 8,000 miles of CTC, approximately 3,000 miles are controlled by data radio originating at 258 base station radio sites.
Computers - A computer network consisting of a centralized data center in Atlanta , Georgia , and various distributed computers throughout the company connects the yards, terminals, transportation offices, rolling stock repair points, sales offices and other key system locations. Operating and traffic data are processed and stored to provide customers with information on their shipments throughout the system. Computer systems provide current information on the location of every train and each car on line, as well as related waybill and other train and car movement data. In addition, the computer systems are utilized to assist management in the performance of a variety of functions and services including payroll, car and revenue accounting, billing, material management activities and controls, and special studies.
ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS - Compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment is a principal NS goal. To date, such compliance has not affected materially NS' capital additions, earnings, liquidity or competitive position. See â€śLegal Proceedings,â€ť Part I, Item 3; â€śPersonal Injury, Environmental and Legal Liabilitiesâ€ť in Part II, Item 7, â€śManagement's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations;â€ť and Note 17 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Mr. Baliles, 67, Charlottesville, Va., has been a director since 1990. He has been Director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia since April 2006. Mr. Baliles was a partner in the law firm of Hunton & Williams, a business law firm with offices in several major U. S. cities and international offices, from 1990 until his retirement in March 2006. He is former Governor and Attorney General of Virginia.
Mr. Carter, 68, Spotsylvania, Va., has been a director since 1992. He has been Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, one of the worldâ€™s largest international education associations, since March 2000, and previously was Executive Director of that organization.
Ms. Horn, 64, Lyme, Ct., has been a director since February 22, 2008. Ms. Horn has been a partner with Brock Capital Group since 2003. Ms. Horn served as president of Private Client Services and managing director of Marsh, Inc., a subsidiary of MMC, from 1999 until her retirement in 2003. Prior to joining Marsh, she was senior managing director and head of international private banking, Bankers Trust Company; chair and chief executive officer of Bank One, Cleveland, N.A.; president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland; treasurer of Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania; and vice president of First National Bank of Boston. Ms. Horn serves as director of T. Rowe Price Mutual Funds; The U.S. Russia Investment Fund, a presidential appointment; Simon Property Group, Inc.; Eli Lilly and Company; and Fannie Mae.
Admiral Reason, 66, Chesapeake Beach, Md., has been a director since 2002. He was Vice Chairman and Director beginning in 2005, and Chief Operating Officer beginning in 2000, of Metro Machine Corporation, an employee-owned ship repair company, until his retirement in September 2006. He is a retired four-star Admiral and former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, having served more than 34 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy. He is a member of the Naval Studies Board at the National Academy of Sciences, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the United States Navy Memorial Foundation, and member of the National War Powers Commission. He is also a director of Amgen Inc. and Todd Shipyards Corporation.
Mr. Carp, 59, Naples, Fla., has been a director since 2006. He formerly served as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Eastman Kodak Company from 2000 to 2005, having previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer and as a director of Eastman Kodak. He retired from Kodak at the end of 2005. He is non-executive Chairman of Delta Air Lines, Inc. and is also a director of Texas Instruments Incorporated and Liz Claiborne, Inc.
Mr. Leer, 55, St. Louis, Mo., has been a director since 1999. He has been Chief Executive Officer and a director of Arch Coal, Inc., a company engaged in coal mining and related businesses, since 1992, and became Chairman of the Board in December 2006. He is also a director of USG Corporation.
Mr. Moorman, 56, Virginia Beach, Va., has been a director since 2005. He has been Chairman of Norfolk Southern since February 2006 Chief Executive Officer since November 2005 and President since October 2004. Prior thereto he served as Senior Vice President Corporate Planning and Services from December 2003 to October 2004, Senior Vice President Corporate Services from February 2003 to December 2003 and President Thoroughbred Technology and Telecommunications, Inc. from 1999 to November 2004.
Mr. Correll, 66, Atlanta, Ga., has been a director since 2000. He has been Chairman of Atlanta Equity Investors, LLC since September 2007. He retired as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Georgia-Pacific Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals, in January 2006, a position he had held since 1993. He is also a director of SunTrust Banks, Inc., SunTrust Bank, SunTrust Banks of Georgia, Inc. and Mirant Corporation.
Mr. Hilliard, 68, Oyster Bay Cove, N.Y., has been a director since 1992. He has been a partner of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., a private bank in New York City, since 1979. He is also a director of Owens Corning, Western World Insurance Group Inc. and Russell Reynolds Associates, Inc.
Mr. Joyce, 66, South Pasadena, Fla., has been a director since 2003. He joined the Board of Directors of IPSCO Inc., a leading steel producer, in 1992, and served as Chairman from 2000 to 2007. Mr. Joyce previously served as Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Terra Industries, Inc. He is also a director of Hercules Incorporated.
MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION FROM LATEST 10K
NSâ€™ 2007 results reflected softness in the overall economy that resulted in reduced traffic volumes. Despite this, railway operating revenues increased slightly as improved average revenue per unit offset the volume declines. Railway operating expenses were about even, resulting in a railway operating ratio (a measure of the amount of revenues consumed by operating expenses) of 72.6%, which improved modestly from 2006.
Cash provided by operating activities exceeded $2 billion for the third consecutive year and, along with a reduction in cash and short-term investment balances, provided funding for increased capital expenditures, significant share repurchases and higher dividends.
Loo ki ng ahead, NS expects revenues to continue to grow, reflecting higher average revenue per unit and modestly higher traffic volume, particularly later in 2008 provided the overall economy improves. NS plans to continue to improve service and maintain a market-based approach to pricing.
During 2007, NS purchased and retired 23.6 million shares of NS common stock at a total cost of $1.2 billion under the share repurchase program approved by the Board of Directors on Nov. 22, 2005. The Board of Directors amended the program in March 2007 and authorized the repurchase of up to 75 million shares of NS common stock through Dec. 31, 2010. In total, NS has purchased and retired 45.3 million shares under this program at a total cost of $2.2 billion.
SUMMARIZED RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
2007 Compared with 2006
Net income in 2007 was $1.5 billion, down $17 million, or 1%, compared with 2006. Diluted earnings per share were $3.68, up $0.11, or 3%, reflecting fewer shares outstanding as a result of NSâ€™ share repurchase program (see Note 13). The decrease in net income was primarily due to higher income taxes and lower nonâ€‘operating items that offset higher income from railway operations. Railway operating revenues increased $25 million, as higher average revenue per unit overshadowed lower traffic volumes. Railway operating expenses decreased $3 million, principally due to lower volume-related expenses that offset higher fuel expense.
MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION FOR LATEST QUARTER
DETAILED RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Railway Operating Revenues
First-quarter 2008 railway operating revenues were $2.5 billion, up $253 million, or 11%, compared with the first quarter of 2007. As shown in the following table, the increases were the result of higher average revenue per unit and increased fuel surcharges (up $144 million) that were offset in part by lower traffic volume.
Coal revenues increased $105 million, or 19%, in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. The increase reflected a 17% increase in average revenue per unit and a 2% increase in carloads.
Utility coal tonnage declined 2% in the first quarter as higher export demand and the temporary closure of a major coal mine tightened coal availability for domestic customers. Export coal tonnage increased 64% for the first quarter, reflecting increased global demand coupled with weather-related supply constraints in Australia and reduced export volume from China . D omestic metallurgical coal, coke and iron ore tonnage declined 3% in the first quarter due to constrained coal supply. Industrial coal tonnage decreased 20% for the first quarter compared with 2007, principally due to a temporary mine shutdown and production problems that affected coal availability.
NS is currently involved in litigation with Virginia Electric and Power Company/Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (Virginia Power) regarding rate adjustment provisions in a transportation contract between them. In 2007, the Virginia Supreme Court issued a decision that remanded the case to the trial court on the grounds that neither of its prior decisions constituted a final order. On April 17, 2008, the trial court entered a final order granting NS monetary damages, including interest, and prescribing the methodology for determining future rates. Virginia Power is expected to appeal this order to the Virginia Supreme Court. Future developments and the ultimate resolution of this matter could result in NS recognizing additional revenues related to this dispute, which could have a favorable impact on results of operations in a particular year or quarter.
Coal revenues for the remainder of the year are expected to be up compared to prior year levels, due to higher average revenue per unit and continued strength in the export market.
General merchandise revenues increased $124 million, or 10%, in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year, reflecting a 13% increase in average revenue per unit, which was partially offset by a 3% decline in traffic volume. The improvement in average revenue per unit reflected continued market-based pricing in all groups and higher fuel surcharges . Chemicals traffic volume decreased 3% for the first quarter, reflecting continued weakness in plastics linked to housing construction declines. Metals and construction volume was up slightly as increased carloads from metals, machinery and aggregate markets offset declines in housing-related markets. A griculture, consumer products and government volume increased 4%, reflecting increases in ethanol and feed shipments. Automotive volumes decreased 10% for the first quarter, as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler reduced production. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler combined operate 17 of 27 assembly plants served by NS. P aper, clay and forest traffic volume was down 8% for the first quarter, reflecting lower volumes related to the housing slowdown and continued decline in conventional paper markets.
General merchandise revenues are expected to trend somewhat higher for the remainder of the year as improved year-over-year pricing should continue to offset modestly lower traffic volume.
Intermodal revenues increased $24 million, or 5%, in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year, primarily due to higher average revenue per unit (up 10%). Intermodal volume was down 4% for the first quarter. Truckload volume decreased 13% reflecting the soft economy. International traffic volume declined 5%, primarily driven by a soft economy and less inland rail movement of West Coast port traffic that offset East Coast port volume growth. The Premium business, which includes parcel and less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, decreased 2%, as LTL conversions partially offset soft parcel business. Triple Crown Services Company volume was up 2%. Intermodal marketing companies volumes grew 2%, reflecting the relative efficiency of intermodal versus over-the-road transportation in a high fuel cost environment.
Intermodal revenues for the remainder of the year are expected to reflect modest growth due primarily to higher revenue per unit.
Railway Operating Expenses
First-quarter railway operating expenses were $1.9 billion in 2008, up $203 million, or 12%, compared with the same period last year.
Compensation and benefits expenses increased $24 million, or 4%, in first quarter 2008, compared with the same period last year. The increase was primarily the result of higher stock-based compensation (up $14 million) and increased wage rates (up $10 million).
Purchased services and rents decreased $9 million, or 2%, in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year, reflecting lower equipment rents as a result of lower traffic volume (down $3 million) and fewer third-party freight car repairs (down $4 million).
Fuel expense, which includes the cost of locomotive fuel as well as other fuel used in railway operations, increased $156 million, or 63%, for the first quarter, compared with the same period last year. The increase reflected a 65% increase in the price per gallon of locomotive fuel and a 1% increase in consumption.
Materials and other expenses (including the estimates of costs related to personal injury, property damage and environmental matters) increased $26 million, or 12%, in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year. The increase reflected the Avondale Mills settlement related to the Graniteville accident (see additional discussion below) as well as higher locomotive and freight car material costs.
In April 2008, NS settled the lawsuit brought by Avondale Mills for claims associated with the Jan. 6, 2005, derailment in Graniteville , SC. A portion of the settlement will not be reimbursed by insurance and is included as an expense in the first quarter. The total liability related to the derailment, which includes a current and long-term portion, represents NSâ€™ best estimate based on current facts and circumstances. The estimate includes amounts related to business property damage and other economic losses, personal injury and individual property damage claims as well as third-party response costs. NSâ€™ commercial insurance policies are expected to cover substantially all expenses related to this derailment above the unreimbursed portion and NSâ€™ self-insured retention, including NSâ€™ response costs and legal fees. Accordingly, the Consolidated Balance Sheets reflect a current and long-term receivable for estimated recoveries from NSâ€™ insurance carriers. One of NSâ€™ insurance carriers has made assertions indicating that it may contest all or part of its coverage obligations, as such all or part of the recorded recovery attributable to such carrier ($100 million) may be contested. NS believes these expenses are covered by the insurance policy and that recovery of any contested amount is probable, in that if the carrier contests payment an arbitrator would determine the settlement amounts to be reasonable and that the insurerâ€™s refusal to consent to and to fund the settlement was a breach of contract.
Other income - net
Other income - net was flat in the first quarter 2008 compared with the same period in 2007 as lower returns from corporate-owned life insurance (down $21 million) were offset by decreased expenses associated with tax credit investments (down $20 million).
Provision for Income Taxes
The first-quarter effective income tax rate was 38.9% in 2008, compared with 32.1% last year. The increase for the quarter was largely due to the absence of synthetic fuel-related credits which expired at the end of 2007.
NSâ€™ consolidated federal income tax returns for 2004 and 2005 are being audited by the Internal Revenue Service and are expected to be completed within the next six months.
FINANCIAL CONDITION AND LIQUIDITY
Cash provided by operating activities, NS' principal source of liquidity, was $604 million in the first three months of 2008, compared with $586 million in the first three months of 2007 reflecting higher income from railway operations. NS had a wor ki ng capital deficit of $191 million at March 31, 2008, compared with a wor ki ng capital deficit of $273 million at Dec. 31, 2007; the change was largely the result of increased proceeds from borrowings that were partially used to repurchase shares of Common Stock. NSâ€™ cash, cash equivalents and short-term investment balances totaled $364 million at March 31, 2008. NS expects that cash on hand combined with cash flows from operations will be sufficient to meet its ongoing obligations. Except for the purchase of additional coal cars, discussed below, there have been no material changes to the contractual obligation amounts or information relating to NSâ€™ future obligations related to certain tax positions contained in NSâ€™ Form 10-K as of Dec. 31, 2007.
Cash used for investing activities was $247 million in the first quarter of 2008, compared with $256 million in the same period last year, reflecting lower investment sales net of purchases and higher property additions. In March 2008, Norfolk Southernâ€™s Board of Directors approved the addition of $64 million to its 2008 capital expenditures budget to accelerate the purchase of approximately 750 new coal cars.
Cash used for financing activities was $199 million in the first quarter of 2008, compared with $387 million in the first quarter of 2007. The change reflected higher debt repayments and increased dividend payments, which were more than offset by more proceeds from borrowings and higher exercises of employee stock options. The timing and volume of future share repurchases will be guided by managementâ€™s assessment of market conditions and other factors. Near-term purchases under the share repurchase program are expected to be made with internally generated cash and proceeds from financings. NSâ€™ debt-to-total capitalization ratio was 40.0% at March 31, 2008, compared with 39.6% at Dec. 31, 2007.
NS has in place and available a $1 billion, five-year credit agreement expiring in 2012, which provides for borrowings at prevailing rates and includes financial covenants. There were no amounts outstanding under this facility at March 31, 2008, and NS is in compliance with all of the financial covenants. Through February 2009, NS is ineligible to utilize its March 2001 and September 2004 Form S-3 registration statements due to a late filing of a Form 8-K which was unrelated to its financial condition or results of operations. However, this is not expected to have an impact on financial liquidity. Through a private offering, NS issued and sold $600 million in debt securities in April 2008 (see Note 7).