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MDU Resources Expands in First Quarter

MDU Resources Group Inc. reported first-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $41.9 million, or 22 cents per share, compared to first quarter 2017 earnings from continuing operations of $35.5 million, or 18 cents per share. Including discontinued operations, MDU Resources reported first quarter earnings of $42.4 million, or 22 cents per share, compared to $37.2 million, or 19 cents per share, in 2017.

"We are off to a strong start this year, and we anticipate the momentum will continue as we execute on a number of growth projects," said David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources. "Our construction services business more than doubled its first quarter earnings compared to last year, and both our utility business and our pipeline business posted very solid results. Our construction materials business posted higher revenues for the quarter, experiencing milder weather in the Northwest.

"We recently announced that we expanded our construction materials market share in northwest Oregon with the acquisition of Teevin & Fischer Quarry," Goodin said. "We are also pleased to announce two new natural gas pipeline projects. The Demicks Lake Project is a 14-mile, $30 million pipeline in the Bakken region, and the Line Section 22 Expansion is a $12 million to $15 million project in the Billings, Mont., area."

The construction services business experienced record revenues in the first quarter and more than doubled its earnings to $15.1 million compared to $7.4 million in first quarter 2017. 

The company performed power line repair work following several severe storms, particularly on the East Coast, and saw an increase during the quarter in sales and rentals of electrical tools and the utility construction equipment it manufactures. Its inside specialty contracting businesses also continued to perform well. This business is evaluating potential acquisition opportunities. Its backlog of work at March 31 was $675 million, compared to $529 million in 2017.

The construction materials business experienced a normal seasonal loss in the first quarter, with a loss of $23.5 million this year compared to $19.9 million in the first quarter of 2017. 

New income tax rates reduced the tax benefit to the company's winter-season loss. Absent the effect of federal tax reform, the construction materials business would have recorded a smaller loss in first quarter 2018 than it had in first quarter 2017. 

The company recently announced that it acquired Teevin & Fischer Quarry, a crushed rock and gravel supplier in northwestern Oregon, and it continues to evaluate additional acquisition opportunities. The construction materials backlog of work at March 31 was $692 million, compared to $725 million in 2017.