Analyst Note| Matthew Young, CFA |
James Squires (age 59) intends to retire on May 1, 2022, following six-plus years at the helm and almost 30 years at Norfolk Southern. Chief Marketing Officer Alan Shaw will step in to take the reigns as CEO. We don’t believe the decision stems from any disagreement or adverse circumstances but suspect it was part of a broader transition plan that’s been mulled over by the board for some time. In fact, under Squires’ watch (and with help from precision railroading veteran Claude Mongeau, who joined the board in 2019), the firm has performed well this past year in terms of incrementally closing the operating ratio gap with peers (despite rising labor inflation and rail-network congestion). Profitability gains stem in part from the ongoing implementation of PSR principles--a process that began in mid-2019.