MDU Resources Group Inc. reported 12 percent higher first-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $35.5 million, or 18 cents per share, compared to first quarter 2016 earnings from continuing operations of $31.6 million, or 16 cents per share.
Including discontinued operations, MDU Resources reported first-quarter earnings of $37.2 million, or 19 cents per share, compared to $24.7 million, or 13 cents per share, in first quarter 2016.
The construction-materials business reported a seasonal first-quarter loss of $19.9 million, compared to a loss of $14.5 million in 2016. This business saw a later construction start in most regions compared to last year as wet or snowy weather delayed work. Construction materials backlog at the end of first quarter was $725 million, compared to first quarter 2016’s record backlog of $831 million.
Other highlights from the first quarter include:
- Electric and natural gas utility earnings increased 16 percent due to colder weather and continued execution of regulatory recovery efforts.
- Pipeline and midstream business had a solid quarter; completed the sale of the Pronghorn assets.
- Construction services’ earnings were up 23 percent on 17 percent revenue growth; backlog of $529 million.
“We are pleased with our solid first quarter results, and we are looking forward to the growth opportunities we see through the rest of the year,” said David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources. “The 12 percent increase in earnings from continuing operations highlights the strength of our streamlined, two-platform businesses. Along with cost recovery efforts, higher electric and natural gas sales volumes helped drive higher earnings at our utility business, while weather slowed the seasonal start of our construction materials business. We are appreciative of the regulatory recovery granted by state agencies as we continue to enhance our delivery system for providing safe, reliable, low-cost electric and natural gas services to our 1.1 million utility customers.
“Our construction services business is off to a good start for the year, particularly with inside construction and industrial workloads, where earnings are up and backlog has remained consistent,” Goodin said. “While we have lower backlog at the construction materials business, primarily in the North Central Region, we continue to see a strong bidding environment in all regions. We are optimistic about the potential opportunities from infrastructure spending packages that have passed or are being considered within a number of states where this business operates, such as California, Idaho and Montana. On a federal level, we are anticipating more projects being bid from the five-year, $305-billion Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act”
MDU Resources believes its regulated energy delivery and construction materials and services businesses are well-positioned for growth.