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MDU Resources Construction Materials Business Up 30%

MDU Resources Group Inc. reported earnings increased 23% in 2019 to $335.5 million, or $1.69 per share, compared to 2018 earnings of $272.3 million, or $1.39 per share. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the company's earnings were $95.1 million, or 47 cents per share, compared to $78.8 million, or 40 cents per share, in 2018.

The construction materials business earned $120.4 million in 2019, up 30% compared to $92.6 million in 2018. Revenues in this business were a record $2.19 billion in 2019, compared to $1.93 billion in 2018.

The company benefited from strong economic conditions in certain states, resulting in increased materials sales and contracting workloads and higher margins. The company also had an increase in asset sales gains during the year that were approximately $5.6 million higher, after tax, than the previous year. 

Acquisitions completed in 2018 and 2019 contributed to the earnings increase. The company continues to explore additional acquisition opportunities. The construction materials business had year-end backlog of $693 million, compared to last year's record backlog of $706 million.

"We saw outstanding performance from all our business lines in 2019," said David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources. "We had record results in a number of areas, particularly in the volume of work and earnings experienced at both our construction services and construction materials companies. We closed out the year with a record backlog of construction work for the second year in a row.

"Our pipeline and midstream business transported a record amount of natural gas for the third consecutive year, and its ongoing growth projects will further expand its ability to transport gas out of the Bakken region. Our utility companies also had strong results, and continue to work with regulators to earn recovery on system investments that allow us to provide reliable, safe service to our growing customer base.

"With our record backlog of construction work at the start of this year and strong organic growth projects underway at our regulated businesses as we continue building a strong America, we are initiating our earnings per share guidance in the range of $1.65 to $1.85 for 2020," Goodin concluded.

The construction services business had record revenues and earnings for the second consecutive year. Earnings were $93.0 million, a 45% increase over earnings of $64.3 million in 2018. Revenues were $1.85 billion, compared to $1.37 billion in 2018. 

The electric and natural gas utility earned $94.3 million in 2019, compared to $84.7 million in 2018. Natural gas sales volumes increased 9.9% and electric sales volumes declined 1.2%. 

The pipeline and midstream business earned $29.6 million in 2019, compared to $28.5 million in 2018. Results in 2018 included a $4.2 million tax benefit related to a final accounting order issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.